DPM Teo Chee Hean notes close ties between China, Singapore as SIP celebrates 20th year

LAUDING the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park's (SIP) "solid international reputations as a modern industrial park", Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean on Sunday noted the close ties between the two countries as the project celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

The "close and substantive" relationship between both states has seen Singapore become China's largest foreign investor and China becoming Singapore's largest trading partner, he stressed.

"This is a reflection of Singapore's confidence in China's continued growth and future prospects. Our wide ranging cooperation have evolved with China's developmental needs," Mr Teo said in his toast at a welcome dinner in Suzhou ahead of the 11th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC).

The JCBC is the highest level mechanism for bilateral cooperation that he co-chairs on Monday with Chinese vice-premier Zhang Gaoli.

At the dinner attended by both Chinese and Singapore officials and businessmen, Mr Zhang also highlighted the "special significance" that high-level bilateral meetings between Singapore and China this year are held in eastern Suzhou city as the success of the SIP is testament to the positive collaborations between both sides over the years

While the SIP occupies just 3.3 per cent of Suzhou's land and holds just 7.2 per cent of its population, for instance, it generates 15 per cent of the city's economic growth and 20 per cent of its trade, he pointed out.

At their meeting earlier in the day, Mr Zhang also touched on a proposed third government to government project that is expected to be located in one of three Western cities: Chongqing, Chengdu or Xi'an.

Elaborating publicly for the first time on the project that he suggested to Singapore in October last year, he said that such a project in western China would be closely connected with China's push to develop a "21st century Maritime Silk Route", a major strategy to revive a trade route running from China through Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean to Europe.

Apart from the JCBC meeting, Mr Teo is also scheduled to co-chair the 16th China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park Joint Steering Council and the 7th Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Joint Steering Council meetings on Monday.

He leaves for Beijing on Tuesday where he will meet Central Military Commission vice-chairman Fan Changlong and State Councillor Yang Jiechi.

esthert@sph.com.sg