Op-ed by DPM Heng Swee Keat: 新中携手共攀新高峰 (Singapore and China: Scaling New Peaks Together)
This op-ed, titled 新中携手共攀新高峰 (Singapore and China: Scaling New Peaks Together) was published in Lianhe Zaobao on 14 October 2019. An English version was published in ThinkChina.
Please scroll down for the English version of the article.
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我将于本周飞往重庆，与中国国务院副总理韩正共同主持第十五届新中双边合作联合委员会 (联委会) 会议。此外，我与韩正副总理也将担任新中两国之间的三个政府间合作项目的联合协调理事会主席，共同商讨中新苏州工业园区、中新天津生态城及中新(重庆)战略性互联互通示范项目所取得的成果与进展。
本届会议适逢重要的历史时刻。明年新中两国将庆祝建交 30 周年，两国也正在各自迈入新的发展阶段。此外，目前全球经济前景不明朗，充满不确定性。因此，本届会议可为两国创造契机，让我们能够探讨如何在互惠共赢的基础上加强建设性合作，更上一层楼。
第一，巩固新中两国双边关系的基础。自两国在 2004 年成立联委会以来，历任联合主席的贡献都为联委会奠定了稳固的基础。我要感谢历任新方主席，包括李显龙总理、前副总理黄根成和国务资政张志贤，为联委会开拓了明确的前进道路。同时，我也要感谢历任中方主席，包括原副总理吴仪、副主席王岐山和原副总理张高丽，他们展现了强大的领导能力和积极的合作精神。
This week, I will be travelling to Chongqing to co-chair the 15th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) with Chinese Vice-Premier Han Zheng. We will also be co-chairing the Joint Steering Council (JSC) meetings for the three Singapore-China Government-to-Government projects namely, the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP), the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city (TEC), and the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity (CCI).
Since my official visit to China in 1997 with then-Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew, I have returned almost every year. I have witnessed the success of China in developing its economy and in uplifting the lives of millions of people.
This upcoming visit is of added significance to me, as I will be co-chairing the JCBC for the first time. The JCBC is the apex annual bilateral platform between Singapore and China. It is an opportunity to review the existing areas of cooperation and launch new areas of collaboration. Both countries attach great importance to the JCBC, reflected by the high-level representation and the substantive achievements over the years. This bears testament to our deep and wide ranging cooperation, as well as our excellent and longstanding bilateral friendship.
The meeting this year takes place at an important juncture. Singapore and China will commemorate our 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations next year. Both countries are also entering a new phase of development. This is also taking place against the backdrop of a global economy that is facing significant headwinds and uncertainty. The JCBC is an opportunity for both countries to raise our trajectory to strengthen constructive cooperation on a win-win basis.
I intend to focus on three themes for this JCBC.
Strengthen our Foundations
First, to strengthen the foundations of our bilateral relationship. Since the JCBC was established in 2004, successive generations of co-chairmen have built the strong base we enjoy today. I thank former Singapore co-chairs Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, former Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng and Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean for forging a strong path forward. I would also like to thank the Chinese co-chairs former Vice Premier Wu Yi, Vice President Wang Qishan and former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli for their strong leadership and spirit of partnership.
I am deeply humbled and honoured to have the opportunity to contribute to the further growth of Singapore-China ties. As the new JCBC co-chair, I look forward to building on these strong foundations and bringing relations to the next level.
This means continuously updating our existing cooperation projects to meet evolving needs. For instance, the SIP, which was started 25 years ago, has evolved to become a modern integrated township, replicated in various other Chinese cities. The SIP has the potential to be replicated beyond Chinese shores.
Strengthening our foundations also means paving the way for our next generation of leaders to deepen our bilateral friendship. On this trip, I will be joined by other members of our fourth generation political leadership, who oversee different aspects of our bilateral cooperation.
Beyond the JCBC, we have also renewed the leadership of our eight Provincial Business Councils to ensure continuity while providing for new ideas and innovation.
Scale New Peaks
Second, the JCBC should scale new peaks. As Singapore and China embark on our next phase of development, our collaboration will also continue to progress with the times. We cannot afford to rest on our laurels and preserve the status quo. We need to keep up with the times and harness new areas of cooperation for the future.
Both countries have laid out ambitious plans for the future – Singapore has our Future Economy Council, Industry Transformation Maps and Infrastructure Asia, while China has its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Five Year Plans. There is much that Singapore and China can learn from each other. We also look forward to contributing to China’s regional development strategies. There are many promising areas that both sides are working on.
Singapore is contributing to China’s Western Region Development Plan through the CCI. The CCI strengthens connectivity between Singapore and Chongqing, which in turn links up Western China to Southeast Asia and beyond. The CCI-New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor (ILSTC) connects the “Belt” and the “Road”, further enhancing trade and investment potential between China and Southeast Asia.
In the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, Singapore looks forward to the establishment of a Smart City Initiative with Shenzhen. Together with the China- Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City, this will enhance our partnership with China on promoting digital innovation to develop smart, green and liveable cities.
The TEC in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region has developed into a green and liveable eco-city. It could serve as a model for other cities and regions. Sustainable development and environmental protection are increasingly important priorities for Singapore, China and the world. The TEC continues to break new ground with initiatives such as a zero waste pilot project, which will support our vision of a more sustainable, resource-efficient and climate-resilient future.
We can further enhance collaboration with the Yangtze River Delta region - not only through the SIP, but also through our business councils with Jiangsu, Zhejiang and also Shanghai, which I inaugurated this May. I look forward to more partnerships between businesses on both sides.
These are just some of the ways in which Singapore can contribute to China’s new cluster regional development strategy.
Expand our HorizonsThird, I believe Singapore and China can expand the horizons of our bilateral cooperation, beyond the shores of our two countries. Our two countries can contribute to develop the infrastructure and economic vibrancy of the region, as well as contribute to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Singapore is an early supporter of the BRI. As part of the JCBC, both countries have established specific areas to deepen BRI cooperation. Singapore will continue to work with China, the World Bank and like-minded countries to develop sustainable infrastructure to meet the growing needs of the region.
As a financial hub with long-standing relationships with countries in Southeast Asia, Singapore can catalyse stronger financial linkages among China, Southeast Asia, other Asian regions and beyond, contribute to China’s capital market development, and support the growth of Chinese companies in the region. Chinese companies can also benefit from our strong offering of professional services and dispute resolution facilities.
Together with many like-minded countries around the world, Singapore and China are committed to uphold an open and rules-based multilateral trading system. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) covering the economies of the ten member states of ASEAN, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand, will not only facilitate economic integration in our region but also help catalyse further integration of the global economy.
By strengthening our foundations, scaling new peaks and expanding the horizons of our cooperation, we can build a better future for our peoples. I look forward to partnering Vice Premier Han Zheng for a successful JCBC.
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