Bigger plans for next phase of Tianjin Eco-city

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong and China's Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, Ms Huang Yan, unveiling a sculpture outside the China-Singapore Friendship Library to commemorate the Tianjin Eco-city's 10t
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong and China's Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, Ms Huang Yan, unveiling a sculpture outside the China-Singapore Friendship Library to commemorate the Tianjin Eco-city's 10th anniversary.ST PHOTO: DANSON CHEONG

Replicating its experiences a key task moving forward: Lawrence Wong

The goal of the Tianjin Eco-city project, which was launched 10 years ago, was to replicate its model of sustainable development in other cities in China and beyond, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said yesterday.

Expanding the Eco-city within Tianjin was a "natural way to progress", he told Singapore reporters after visiting the project.

"All of this will mean a lot more work for officials on both sides, but I think it will add to the very good cooperation that we already have with China and the Tianjin government," he said.

The Tianjin Eco-city, one of three government-to-government projects between Singapore and China, celebrated its 10th anniversary yesterday. "We will first need to consolidate the lessons that we have learnt from the Eco-city, and study what experiences can be replicated and where they can be replicated," said Mr Wong.

At the moment, the 30 sq km Eco-city is only about one-third built up.

In terms of replicating its developmental experience, one possible starting point is to expand the Eco-city southward to meet the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area, a national-level development zone.

This combined area would form the core of the Tianjin Binhai New Area (TBNA), a district with an area three times the size of Singapore.

Replicating the Eco-city's experiences would be one of three future tasks for the project moving forward, Mr Wong told reporters.

Replicating the Eco-city's experiences would be one of three future tasks for the project moving forward, Mr Wong told reporters. The other two tasks would be completing the rest of the Eco-city, and raising the amount of smart applications such as for the energy grid within the city.

The other two tasks would be completing the rest of the Eco-city, and raising the amount of smart applications such as for the energy grid within the city.

Mr Wong's comments come just a week after Singapore and China signed a deal, during a Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation meeting in Singapore, to work together to replicate the Tianjin Eco-city's development experience in Chinese cities as well as in other Belt and Road regions.

China's Belt and Road Initiative is to build infrastructure in countries along land and sea trade routes linking Asia to Europe and Africa.

Mr Wong yesterday also said that any replication would not just cover "green buildings", but also include other areas such as how the wastewater pond and saline land of the Eco-city were rehabilitated, and also the training of officials and city planners.

"Singapore started on the path of sustainable development very early in our development experience because of our circumstances.

"We are just one very small island one-third of the size of the (TBNA), and we cannot afford to spoil this small little island which is also our home," Mr Wong said earlier in the day when he delivered the opening address at the two-day China-Singapore International Green Building Conference at the Eco-city.

Mr Wong is in China for a three-day working visit to attend anniversary celebrations of the Eco-city. He is accompanied by a delegation comprising businessmen and government officials.

Yesterday, Mr Wong also met China's Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, Ms Huang Yan, and TBNA party chief Zhang Yuzhuo, and they endorsed a new key performance indicator framework to guide future development of the Eco-city.

Mr Wong told reporters that the Eco-city had been a good platform to facilitate bilateral cooperation.

"I believe that this platform remains very relevant. For 10 years, it has proven very useful for both sides; it has led to many mutually beneficial outcomes... and I believe that we can keep this platform a useful one, a relevant one for both countries," he said.

Mr Wong will leave China today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2018, with the headline 'Bigger plans for next phase of Tianjin Eco-city'. Print Edition | Subscribe