SINGAPORE - Singapore and China's Chongqing city have strengthened cooperation with the launch of a dedicated data channel linking both sides, and a slew of project signings that cement the fast growth of the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI).
Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing and visiting Chongqing party secretary Chen Min'er witnessed the launch on Wednesday (Sept 11) of the China-Singapore (Chongqing) International Data Channel, China's first point-to-point data link with another country.
A tie-up between Singtel, StarHub and China's big three telcos, the 260Gbps data link will provide users with better network reliability and lower latency. Twelve Chongqing companies including tech giant Tencent and major data centre operator GDS also signed as first customers of the data channel.
The dedicated link will strengthen the digital connectivity between western China and Singapore, and support Singapore firms looking to digitally expand their businesses to Chongqing, a south-west city, and western China, said the Infocomm Media Development Authority.
At a business forum at Shangri-La Hotel before the signing, Mr Chan said the CCI - which focuses on modern connectivity and modern services - has shown that Singapore-China collaboration has evolved in tandem with China's priorities, while also showcasing how the two countries complement each other's strengths.
Launched in 2015, the CCI is the third government-to-government project between the two sides.
Mr Chan said Chongqing's strategic location is why it has been tapped to anchor the development of China's western region while advancing its Belt and Road Initiative and the Yangtze River Economic Belt strategy. Singapore, on the other hand, is a base for global businesses to access markets, capital and technology.
The new data channel, for instance, will position Chongqing as the data hub for western China and Singapore as the data hub for South-east Asia, he said.
The next - and more crucial - step is to build on these foundations to deepen understanding among leaders and executives from both sides through more regular exchanges, while further integrating platforms and standards in areas such as customs clearance and finance to develop the virtuous cycle of increased trade, said Mr Chan.
"The more we harmonise our platforms and recognise each other's standards, the greater the opportunity for business and the less non-tariff barriers there will be," he added.
"Amid the world of uncertainties, where businesses are looking for long-term opportunities, such common standards, common platforms are of vital importance to the growth of our enterprises."
Mr Chen agreed on the need to focus on enhancing inter-operability, and that the CCI has served as "a bridge for deepening cooperation between Chongqing and Singapore".
Besides the new data link-up, 27 memorandums of understanding were also signed on Wednesday between Singapore and Chinese firms in areas such as aviation, financial services, logistics and information and communication technology.
One of the deals will see Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) establish a digital innovation centre in Chongqing's Liangjiang new area, extending the capabilities of its internal technology team.
The centre's initial objective will be to help SPH's Chinese Media Group better reach a mainland audience, said chief technology officer Glen Francis.
"Things are evolving very fast in the Chinese market, so we definitely want to focus on localised apps that are specialised to Chinese users' preference," he said.
"We want to apply some of these more sophisticated technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning so that our apps are hyper-localised to what the Chinese are used to and the way they consume media."