Singapore and China's southern province Guangdong want to focus on innovation and technology in their future collaborations.
With this in mind, Mr Ong Ye Kung, Singapore's Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills), urged both sides to work more closely in three areas, namely the Guangzhou Knowledge City, intellectual property development and commercialisation, as well as student exchanges and internships.
Mr Ong, who is on a five-day business mission, met the province's top officials, including Guangdong party chief Hu Chunhua, Guangdong Governor Ma Xingrui and Guangzhou party chief Ren Xuefeng in the past two days.
At their meeting on Tuesday, Mr Hu suggested that Guangdong can partner Singapore in technology and entrepreneurship, given the Republic's strengths in these areas.
"The atmospherics were good, and we spoke like old friends even though we were meeting for the first time," Mr Ong told The Straits Times in a phone interview yesterday.
Mr Hu, 54, has been touted as a leader who could take over when President Xi Jinping steps down.
A GOOD FIT
Singapore and Guangdong have different strengths. While we will compete, there are many complementary areas where we can work together.
MR ONG YE KUNG, Singapore's Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills).
Mr Hu told Mr Ong, who co-chairs the Singapore-Guangdong Collaboration Council with Mr Ma, that the southern economic powerhouse is facing competition from both high-end and lower-end industries as it restructures its economy.
Noting the significant role the province plays in China's development, Mr Ong said: "Guangdong has always been a pioneer in China's development. It was the starting point of China's reforms and opening-up some 40 years ago. It has also been tasked to be a trailblazer in the next phase of China's development to be a moderately prosperous country by 2021 and a modern country by 2049."
On how both sides can collaborate, he added: "Singapore and Guangdong have different strengths. While we will compete, there are many complementary areas where we can work together."
In his meeting with Mr Ren yesterday, they discussed possible collaboration in the city cluster known as the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area. The plan will cover social and economic cooperation to improve connectivity within the region. Mr Ong highlighted that Singapore can also collaborate with Guangzhou, the provincial capital, in financial services and technical exchange.
Today, Mr Ong will meet Shenzhen party chief Wang Weizhong. His visit ends tomorrow.