Speech by DPM and Coordinating Minister for National Security, Teo Chee Hean, at the Business China Awards 2016 on 22 November 2016.
“Innovative and Progressive Singapore-China Ties”
新加坡和中国的关系是稳固, 与时俱进和经得起考验的。多年来, 两国领导多次互访。新加坡的企业也愿意和中国企业合作，支持中国的一带一路战略。通商中国企业奖就是表扬那些长期为促进新中双边经济合作、贸易发展的企业。
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Chairman of Business China, Mr Lee Yi Shyan,
A very good evening!
I am happy to be here with you tonight to commend the outstanding individuals and organisation who have contributed towards Singapore-China relations.
The Awards showed the many facets of our bilateral relations with China. As an independent nation with a Chinese majority, we also hope to connect with other communities and countries to increase exchanges and better mutual understanding. The Business China Excellence Award, in particular, honours exceptional individuals who have promoted Singaporean’s understanding of China and those who encouraged cultural exchanges between the two countries.
The relationship between Singapore and China is stable, progressive, and resilient. Leaders from both countries have had many bilateral visits over the years. Singapore companies are also willing to collaborate with Chinese companies, supporting the ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative. The Business China Enterprise Award recognises organisations committed to strengthening long term bilateral economic collaboration and trade development between Singapore and China.
Driven by technology and innovation, Singapore-China business connections have also progressed with the times. The Business China Young Achiever Award honours an individual who has made exceptional contributions to the establishment of new business connections between Singapore and China, as well as the bridging of international markets.
I hope Singapore and China’s relationship will be long-lasting and progressive.
Next, I will continue in English.
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Ladies and Gentlemen,
Singapore-China ties have always been forwarding-looking, innovative and mutually beneficial on many fronts. Since 2013, China has been Singapore’s largest trading partner, and Singapore has been China’s largest source of foreign capital.
We celebrated 25 years of diplomatic relations last year. During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s State Visit to Singapore last November, leaders of both countries established an All-Round Cooperative Partnership Progressing with the Times, and reached consensus on a wide range of areas.
Both sides agreed to launch negotiations to upgrade the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement. The CSFTA came into effect in 2009 and was China’s first bilateral FTA with an Asian economy.
Singapore-China ties have always been forwarding-looking, innovative and mutually beneficial on many fronts. DPM Teo
Singapore-China ties have always been forwarding-looking, innovative and mutually beneficial on many fronts.
Building on the success of the Suzhou Industrial Park and the Tianjin Eco-city, a third G-to-G project, the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI) was also announced. The CCI was established to catalyse developments in China’s Western Region. The CCI would focus on the four key areas of financial services, aviation, transport and logistics, and infocomm technology (ICT). Developing these sectors would help promote more efficient logistics and financial flows within the region, and create new linkages through Singapore to overseas markets.
These extensive and progressive ties have been possible due to the deep and comprehensive links between both countries. Tonight’s winners of the Business China Awards reflect the multi-faceted nature of our relations. China is embarking on new development initiatives which will bring the region closer together in shared prosperity. Singapore supports China’s peaceful development in partnership with other countries in our region. In 2015, for the first time, China’s outward investment exceeded the inward flow of foreign direct investments into China. The Belt and Road initiative, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank , the internationalisation of the Renminbi (RMB), the new Digital Economy, and the search by Chinese companies for new overseas markets and investments, offer new opportunities to strengthen bilateral links and business partnerships in these growth areas. Let me elaborate.
Opportunities for Strong Business Partnerships and People-to-People Links
First, we can further strengthen business partnerships and people-to-people links with China’s Belt and Road initiative.
Southeast Asia has longstanding trade links with China. Trade along the maritime route was already flourishing during Tang times, linking Guangzhou to key places in Southeast Asia, West Asia and the Middle East. These trade links were further enhanced in the 15th Century, through the voyages of Admiral Zheng He. Subsequently, key ports in Southeast Asia such as Singapore continued to facilitate trade between countries in the Pacific and Indian Ocean basins, and on to Europe.
I was at the Leaders’ Retreat with Indonesia last week held in the Central Java port city of Semarang. Semarang (or三宝垄) in Central Java took its name from Admiral Zheng He (三宝) who visited Semarang twice in 1406 and 1420. Singapore’s collaboration with Indonesia on the new Kendal Industrial Park on the outskirts of Semarang, thus revives the centuries-old link between the people of Singapore and Semarang along the maritime silk route.
Apart from Singapore’s strategic location between the Indian and Pacific basins on the maritime silk “Road”, Singapore is also now strategically connected to a key node on the “Belt” through the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative. This new highlight of our bilateral cooperation is progressing well. As the CCI develops, it will strengthen economic links between Singapore and Chongqing, and to the other countries along the Belt and Road initiative.
I am happy that tonight’s winner of the Excellence Award is a well-respected historian and internationally renowned scholar of Chinese culture and heritage. Through his significant contributions, Singapore and Singaporeans have a better understanding of the historical links between our countries, and can better place contemporary developments in China in context.
Opportunities for Strong Financial Cooperation
Second, we are further strengthening financial cooperation with China to support the internationalisation of the Renminbi (RMB) and Chinese enterprises.
Singapore is one of the largest offshore RMB centres outside Greater China. We have actively promoted the use of RMB in international transactions, and continue to play a catalytic role in the internationalisation of the RMB, offering a wide range of RMB products.
Cross-border RMB transactions for companies and individuals in Chongqing were also made possible in March this year, as part of the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative. Companies in Chongqing will now be able to issue RMB bonds in Singapore for economic activities in China’s Western Region. This initiative will further open up China’s financial sector, broaden the use of RMB in the region and expand the offshore RMB market in Singapore.
Singapore is also one of the leading infrastructure financing hubs in Asia, supporting the increasing investments in infrastructure in our region. IE Singapore has also been working closely with Chinese and Singapore banks to syndicate financing to support Belt and Road projects, particularly in Southeast Asia. It has signed agreements with major Chinese banks to provide S$90 billion of trade financing for Singapore and Chinese companies in Belt and Road projects. With these financing arrangements, enterprises in Singapore and China can be better positioned to benefit from the US$6 trillion projected infrastructure needs of countries along the Belt and Road.
I am therefore heartened that the Enterprise Award winner tonight has been a long-time supporter of Singapore-China business and financial relations, with operations here from the 1930s.
Opportunities in the New Digital Economy
Third, we are further strengthening our business links with China in the Digital Economy.
Under the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative, both countries will be developing a new “digital superhighway” to provide high speed connectivity between Singapore and Chongqing.
The Guangzhou Knowledge City is also developing a Smart Eco Technology Demonstration Centre to be completed in 2020. This will be a good springboard for companies to exchange business ideas and opportunities with their Chinese counterparts.
Business China also inked an MOU with the China Internet Development Foundation in July this year. This MOU will strengthen bilateral collaboration in infocomm technology, mobile applications, the Internet of Things, and further develop the digital links between both countries. These initiatives will boost connectivity and linkages between our two countries in the digital world, supplementing the strong connectivity that we have in people-to-people, trade and transport links. It is therefore very appropriate that The Young Achiever Award winner tonight has contributed to new business links with China in the telecommunications, internet and media sectors. This reflects the strength of our business relations not only in the traditional industries, but also in the growing Digital Economy.
Congratulations to the recipients of this year’s Business China Awards for their vision and exceptional efforts to promote Singapore-China bilateral ties.
Tonight’s award winners exemplify the deep historical and cultural ties between our countries; the longstanding business and commercial linkages which have now moved into a new era with the internationalization of the RMB and serves both China's inward and outward investment needs – the AIIB and the Belt and Road initiative; and the new digital economy which will provide a new network of links between China, Singapore and the rest of the world on top of the traditional physical links. I hope their successes will help catalyse new opportunities to deepen understanding between our two countries, create new opportunities for strategic cooperation, and strengthen Singapore-China relations.
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