When entrepreneur Ding Yan heard about the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI) in February, she immediately went looking for a Singapore business partner to help realise her dream of building a smart logistics park in the south-western Chinese municipality.
"I have the local resources, but I lack expertise in logistics data management," said Ms Ding, who owns a logistics park in the Liangjiang New Area at Guoyuan Port, one of two in Chongqing.
"But I know Singapore is well- known for its logistics sector."
Within months, she had sealed a deal with Singapore logistics firm Vibrant Group to turn the current facility into a US$200 million (S$272 million) data-driven park.
"I'm a big beneficiary of the CCI," Ms Ding told The Straits Times in an interview at her office, referring to the third Singapore-Sino government-led project launched last year.
It is aimed at helping to drive growth in China's less developed western region, with a focus on modern connectivity and services.
With the injection of capital and expertise from her Singapore partner, she is confident of establishing a smart inter-city logistics network, freeing Chongqing from the limitations of being an inland city. "I plan to replicate the park in Kunming (Yunnan) next, and then to Thailand, Malaysia and Myanmar," Ms Ding said. "This is my own version of the 'One Belt, One Road' initiative," she quipped.
At a business dialogue on Wednesday in Chongqing's financial district, Singapore's Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon said financial cooperation under the CCI has made the most progress to date, with more than US$4.5 billion worth of deals brokered between Singapore banks and Chongqing companies.
State-owned Chongqing Grain Group and private enterprise Lifan Group told an audience of some 400 business people that, thanks to the CCI, they had successfully raised funds in Singapore.
"Our offshore bond deal in Singapore has boosted our international standing, which is very beneficial for our ambitions of expanding overseas," said Mr Xu Li, general manager of Chongqing Grain.
Chongqing Vice-Mayor Liu Guiping said contracts for some 37 projects worth more than US$13 billion have been signed under the CCI in the first half of this year.
Chinese and Singapore financial institutions have also jointly set up a 100 billion yuan (S$20 billion) fund to invest primarily in Chongqing-based projects in areas such as financial services and aviation.
Chinese firms also say they hope for a bigger impact from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's visit to Chongqing today, his first since the project was launched.
Yesterday, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, Mr Chan Chun Sing, and Chongqing Mayor Huang Qifan co-chaired a meeting to review the progress of the CCI since the first joint implementation committee meeting in January.
One key topic discussed was the Chongqing Transport and Logistics Master Plan, which seeks to develop the area into the logistics hub of western China and as part of the "Belt and Road Initiative".
"The CCI is a core and important part of the 'One Belt, One Road' initiative, which is about getting Chinese companies to move out to the region, including South-east Asia," said Lifan Group general manager Mou Gang on Wednesday.