PM Lee: Singapore wants third bilateral venture to fit in with China's priorities

For its third government-to-government bilateral venture in China, Singapore wants to conceive of a project that fits in with China's priorities, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said in his first comments on the prospective project. -- ST PHOTO: L
For its third government-to-government bilateral venture in China, Singapore wants to conceive of a project that fits in with China's priorities, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said in his first comments on the prospective project. -- ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

FOR its third government-to-government bilateral venture in China, Singapore wants to conceive of a project that fits in with China's priorities, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said in his first comments on the prospective project.

The venture should also be commercially viable and fully supported by the local authorities, Mr Lee told Guangdong newspaper, Nanfang Daily, in an interview that was published on Thursday as he began a week-long visit to southern China.

Mr Lee will be visiting Guangdong - Singapore's top provincial trading partner last year - as well as Nanning, the capital of Guangxi region, where he will visit the 11th China-Asean Expo and deliver the keynote address.

The trip will also take him to Shenzhen, the pioneer site of China's economic transformation, as well as financial hub Hong Kong.

Mr Lee, who has not visited some of these rapidly-changing southern Chinese cities for many years, said he was "looking forward to seeing the cities for myself and feeling the vibes".

Asked how Singapore and China could further collaborate in key areas like trade and investment, Mr Lee told Nanfang Daily that bilateral cooperation is "progressing at all levels and on multiple fronts".

Singapore and China are currently exploring plans for a third flagship joint venture, following the Suzhou Industrial Park, which marks its 20th anniversary this year, and the Tianjin Eco-city, which started in 2008. The Chinese government had asked Singapore to consider the western parts of the country as the site of the new project.

"We want to conceive a project that fits in with China's priorities, will be fully supported by the local authorities and will be commercially viable," Mr Lee said.

In the wide-ranging interview with Nanfang Daily, Mr Lee was also asked about Chinese president Xi Jinping's proposal of a "21st Century Maritime Silk Road," a trade route that would link several Asean countries and China through the South China Sea.

Mr Lee responded by saying that Singapore welcomes China's efforts to systematically develop its relationship with Asean countries at multiple levels.

"This strategic concept of improving connectivity and creating an economy belt will benefit our region," he added.

Mr Lee noted that Asean "hopes to be friends with and work with all countries."

"Hence, as Asean enhances its ties with China, it is also increasing cooperation with other countries and regions, such as the United States, the European Union and Japan," he said.

"This is how Asean can play a useful role, in fostering regional cooperation and economic integration in our region and beyond."

rchang@sph.com.sg