TIANJIN - The second major phase of the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city (SSTEC) project has formally been launched, focusing on the development of a glitzy-but-green central business district (CBD) in the heart of the 30 sq km township.
Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong and Tianjin Binhai New Area Party Secretary Zhang Yuzhuo jointly launched the new chapter of the flagship bilateral project in China on Sunday (July 1) in a ceremony also witnessed by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.
"We have completed the start-up phase; now in the next phase of development, we are focusing on the city centre, and we want to make (eco-city) even better," said Mr Wong.
The SSTEC, the second government-to-government project between Singapore and China, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.
The new CBD is a key part of the 4.5 sq km central district that lies north of the 8sqkm start-up area where most of the development of SSTEC took place over the past decade. An iconic skyline is planned to take shape there over the next five years that will encompass commercial and recreational activities, and will also feature business hotels and residential buildings.
Noting that the waterfront city centre will be framed by a light-rail station, the Sino-Singapore Friendship library and a number of new parks, director-general of the Eco City Administrative Committee Shan Zefeng said: "The ecological environment is beautiful, and the development potential is unlimited...this area will be the crown jewel of the eco-city."
Mr Shan also used the ceremony to pay tribute to the many Singaporeans who have worked here over the decades: "In the development of eco-city, you have all left a colourful and indelible mark, which we will always remember."
Even as the eco-city is on the point of take-off, Mr Teo said the important thing is to see how its lessons can be replicated for the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei new area, which is being developed as China's new growth engine.
He noted that while SSTEC was conceived at a time when China was just beginning to pay attention to environmental issues, today that has become ingrained by the leadership as a core priority of its future development.
China amended its constitution in March to include the term "ecological civilisation" as a tenet of its development, as well as the term "harmonious and beautiful" in the end goal.
"For Singapore and China, we have always been able to find areas where we can work together which fit into the priorities that each of us has at that particular point in time," said Mr Teo. "And we continue to do so in the future."
While Singapore has imparted a number of lessons in sustainable development to Tianjin, it has also brought home fresh perspectives that are useful to the Republic's own urban plans, said Mr Wong.
He said the cleanup of Jing lake in the eco-city, formerly a heavily polluted wastewater pond, mirrored that of Lorong Halus in Punggol, which was Singapore's last mainland rubbish dump.
In 2007, it was turned into Singapore's first man-made wetlands, which protects the nearby Serangoon reservoir's water quality by collecting and treating water passing through the former landfill.
"We have exported and brought our experience to Tianjin, but the work we do in Tianjin has also given us fresh perspectives and we have also brought some of these things back to Singapore, in our own urban plans," said Mr Wong.
Lessons learnt in building the eco-city in the past decade will feature in a document to be launched during the project's 10th anniversary in September, Mr Wong added.