One Belt One Road a propeller and ballast for bilateral ties

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (left) receiving Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Istana when Mr Xi visited Singapore in 2015.PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore is an important member nation of Asean, just as China and Singapore are important economic and trade partners.

Chinese President Xi Jinping made an official state visit to Singapore in November 2015, elevating bilateral ties between the two countries to "a partnership of all-round cooperation keeping with the times". Under the care and support of both Chinese and Singapore leaders, economic and trade ties between China and Singapore achieved great progress in recent years, especially with strong advocacy of the One Belt, One Road (Obor) initiative acting as "ballast" and a "propeller" to help further bilateral ties.

The Obor initiative was confirmed to be the new focus of future Sino-Singapore partnership during the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation meeting held in February this year.

Economic and trade cooperation between China and Singapore bring not only better economic advantages to companies, but will benefit both countries' people too.

In Singapore, from clothes and toys to electronic devices and furniture, many products are manufactured in China. Homes, the MRT system, shopping malls and playgrounds - many of these infrastructural facilities are built by Chinese contractors.

Chinese firms have made significant contributions to the public utilities sector in Singapore.

Suzhou Industrial Park has become a model example for several development zones in China. Environmental and food safety projects backed by Singapore investments are also much welcome in China.

As an important trade, aviation and financial hub in the Asia-Pacific region, Singapore can tap on its strengths to achieve a fulcrum effect, especially with the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative, which is part of Obor.

According to China's statistics, Singapore's investment in China makes up 85 per cent of the total investment in China by Obor countries in 2016. China's investments in Singapore are 29 per cent of its total outbound investments to Obor countries.

The Sino-Singapore goods trading volume is 8 per cent of China's total goods trade volume with all Obor countries; at the same time, Singapore is China's largest services trading partner among Obor countries.

The Singapore Government attaches high importance and is responding positively to the Obor initiative. Singapore's Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong led a delegation to attend and sign a memorandum of understanding at the Belt and Road Forum recently held in Beijing.

Singapore businesses have shown enthusiasm about the Obor initiative. The Singapore Business Federation has held Obor-related international forums for two consecutive years.

Singapore's Ascendas-Singbridge is partnering China Machinery Engineering Corp to build an industrial business park in India; Singapore's PSA Corp is working with several Chinese government agencies and firms to create a master plan and consolidate all port shoreline areas; Singapore's Winning International Group, China Weiqiao Group and Yantai Port Group are collaborating on bauxite resource development and logistics operations in Africa, and so on.

It is worth mentioning that the third Sino-Singapore GTG project in Chongqing is a model example of strategic interconnectivity. With its operations centre set up in Chongqing, its scope will encompass the entire western region of China, creating a perfect point in effectively connecting One Belt and One Road. It will also provide a wider platform for Sino-Singapore economic and trade ties, deepen cooperation between companies from both countries and add lustre to the Obor initiative.

I believe with the help of the Belt and Road Forum, Chinese and Singapore companies can grasp more partnership and business opportunities, coupled with China's huge production capacity, high-end equipment and rich talent pool, to achieve better results and build a better future for Obor.

  • The writer is economics counsellor of the People's Republic of China Embassy in Singapore. A longer version of this article written in Chinese was first published on

  • Translated by Kua Yu-Lin
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 02, 2017, with the headline 'One Belt One Road a propeller and ballast for bilateral ties'. Print Edition | Subscribe