Wednesday 18 September 2013

'Continued success vital' for Sino-S'pore projects

Tianjin Eco-City has full support of China's leaders, says top-ranking official
By Ho Ai Li, The Straits Times, 17 Sep 2013

IT IS important to ensure the continued success of bilateral projects like the Suzhou Industrial Park and Tianjin Eco-City, said Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and China's Executive Vice-Premier, Mr Zhang Gaoli, as they met in Beijing.

Mr Zhang, who is the former party boss of port city Tianjin, also told Mr Goh that the Eco-City enjoyed the full political support of the Chinese leadership and expressed confidence that it "will definitely be a success", said Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in a statement.

Mr Goh had been in China since last Friday to meet Chinese officials and attend events marking the fifth anniversary of the model green city.

"I hear you have made a trip to the Tianjin Eco-City. What are your impressions?" Mr Zhang asked Mr Goh yesterday at the start of a relatively long meeting of an hour and 20 minutes at Beijing's Zhongnanhai compound for top leaders.

The progress was "amazing", replied Mr Goh.

He noted that the city, in a part of Tianjin some 150km from Beijing, had gone from being "a massive construction site" two years ago to a place with restaurants, banks and research laboratories.

Acknowledging the city's progress, the two leaders agreed that it is an important part of bilateral ties and should become a model for sustainable development and urbanisation that can be replicated in other Chinese cities.

The second government-led project by China and Singapore, the Eco-City broke ground in 2008 and has since built up a community of 4,000 residents and attracted 1,000 companies.

The two countries are also working together on projects like the Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City and the Sino-Singapore Jilin Food Zone, led by the private sector.

Projects like the Suzhou and Tianjin ones are models of "mutually beneficial" cooperation, said Mr Zhang, according to Xinhua news agency.

Yesterday, Mr Zhang and Mr Goh, who called each other old friends, noted the excellent Sino-Singapore ties and reaffirmed the "deep and broad bilateral cooperation".

They agreed that China and Singapore could explore new areas of cooperation like social management and finance.

Mr Goh also congratulated Mr Zhang on his promotion to the Chinese Communist Party's apex Politburo Standing Committee last November.

Now the No. 7 leader in China, Mr Zhang is due to visit Singapore later this year to chair a meeting on bilateral cooperation with Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

He became the co-chair of the Joint Council on Bilateral Cooperation this year, the most senior Chinese official to do so, in a sign of Beijing's emphasis on ties with Singapore.

Mr Zhang also briefed Mr Goh yesterday on the state of China's economy and its plans for a key meeting, the Communist Party Central Committee's third plenum, coming up in November.

They exchanged views on the global economic situation, added the MFA.

Mr Goh, accompanied by National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan, Senior Parliamentary Secretary Sam Tan and Member of Parliament Mah Bow Tan, returned to Singapore yesterday after his four-day visit.

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