China important to Singapore's long-term economic progress: Minister

Pedestrians cross the street in Shanghai's financial district on the Bund on March 13, 2014. Business leaders were told that China remains an important part of maintaining Singapore's economic progress at a ceremony Friday evening. -- PHOTO: AFP
Pedestrians cross the street in Shanghai's financial district on the Bund on March 13, 2014. Business leaders were told that China remains an important part of maintaining Singapore's economic progress at a ceremony Friday evening. -- PHOTO: AFP

Business leaders were told that China remains an important part of maintaining Singapore's economic progress at a ceremony Friday evening.

Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, said that while Singapore's "linguistic and cultural affinity" with China gave a head start, this advantage alone is not enough.

"It is, therefore, imperative that Singaporeans continue to augment our ability to engage China as part of our strategic vision to maintain global competitiveness and long-term economic vitality," he added.

Mr Lim was speaking at the commencement ceremony for participants of the Future China Advanced Leaders Programme, held at Swissôtel Merchant Court Friday evening.

The programme, by local business platform Business China, sent 24 senior managers on three separate weeks of courses held in both China and Singapore, starting from March.

Since its start in 2012, the programme has attracted nearly 70 business leaders, studying the development of China in cities such as Chongqing, Shanghai and Chengdu.

This year's programme graduates came from diverse fields, including Ms Teo Han Jo, audit partner at KPMG, and Mr Gan Chong Min, managing director of Raffles City China Fund, a unit of CapitaLand China.

Mr Gan, who also served as the gradating cohort's class representative, said that there was still much to learn about China even with his substantial experience there.

"China is constantly evolving...I am certain that the new friendships and bonds of camaraderie forged with fellow participants will translate into long-lasting partnerships as we continue to engage China."