Monday, 16 November 2015

Singapore China G-to-G Projects


Update 16 May 2017: 5 ways China can sink our economy
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LET'S NOT BEAT around the bush. PM Lee Hsien Loong's absence at the New Silk Road summit currently taking place in China is a big deal.

Was he not invited or did he elect not to attend (and despatched National Development Minister Lawrence Wong instead)? The former seems the more plausible account. Either way, the development can only be described as doomy.

The summit, attended by 28 heads of government, is Beijing's way of announcing its intention of breaking out from under the United State's world domination, at least in the sphere of trade and commerce. Here are are five ways Beijing is doing this:
  • Melaka Gateway
  • East Coast Railway Line (ECRL)
  • New Silk Road
  • Arctic Route
  • Kra Canal

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China Frictions May See Singapore Miss Out on Belt-Road Billions
China’s plan for a maritime “Silk Road” to Europe is helping channel funds to Southeast Asia for roads, railways and ports. But amid the deals bonanza, one country risks missing out

Despite strong historical and cultural ties to China, the tiny state of Singapore has found itself in Beijing’s crosshairs, in part for its stance over territorial disputes in the South China Sea. As other Southeast Asian leaders lined up to meet President Xi Jinping at a summit in Beijing this week for his Belt-and-Road Initiative, Singapore was represented by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.

China views Singapore as being less supportive of Xi’s plan because unlike other countries that announced their leaders would attend without requiring a formal invitation, Singapore sought an invite, according to people familiar with the matter. They asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the information.
“The cooler political relationship between Singapore and China could have ripple effects which influence economic and trade relations,” said Lu Jianren, a researcher at the China-Asean Research Institute at China’s Guangxi University. “Singapore has been less proactive to work with China while many leaders in the region showed greater enthusiasm that they want Beijing to be more involved in Southeast Asian growth.”
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. “I wouldn’t say we have major problems; we’ve had some issues and some incidents,” Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said of China, in an interview aired by the BBC in March.

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Singapore risks being left out of the loop on B&R regional integration

Indeed, on a visit to the US White House in 2013, Lee saw fit to joke about pig soup and pollution at China's expense.

In Chinese, if not Asian culture and diplomatic protocol, this was a big faux pas - all the more so as it occurred in the capital of China's No. 1 strategic rival.

Too often, Singapore, then at the height of its prosperity, seemed to be flaunting its new orientation, without regard for Chinese sensibilities

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WHAT BELT AND ROAD SNUB MEANS FOR SINGAPORE’S TIES WITH CHINA
Not invited: Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Photo: AFP
Not invited Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Photo: AFP

China’s decision not to invite Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to last weekend’s Belt and Road Forum highlights the still-strained ties between the two countries, observers say, though officials in the Lion City have tried to shrug off talk of any diplomatic rift.

Of the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) members, only three countries were not represented by their heads of government at the high-level summit in Beijing: Singapore, Thailand and Brunei. Twenty-nine national leaders and the representatives of 28 other countries attended the two-day meeting to discuss the China-led initiative to rebuild the ancient Silk Road trade route through a network of new ports, railways and roads.

The Singapore delegation was led by national development minister Lawrence Wong. In an interview with travelling Singaporean media, Wong revealed that the invitations were decided by China. It was the first official acknowledgement that Lee was not invited.

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3 myths about Singapore-China ties
Much chatter online & off has taken place on why Singapore's PM Lee Hsien Loong did not attend the inaugural Belt & Road Forum in Beijing last weekend

The event organised by China had heads of state & government from 29 countries attending, including 7 out of 10 from Asean. Singapore was represented by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.

2 schools of thought prevailed: China snubbed Singapore. No, it was Singapore that didn't want to take part.

3 myths floating out there that merit being plucked from the ocean of misinformation & tossed into the incinerator:
  • SINGAPORE HAS CHANGED ITS STANCE ON CHINA AND NOW ALIGNS ITSELF MORE OVERTLY WITH THE UNITED STATES
  • SINGAPORE IS A CHINESE SOCIETY AND SHOULD BE MORE SYMPATHETIC TO CHINA
  • CHINA IS OUT TO PUNISH SINGAPORE, AND SINGAPOREANS SHOULD FEEL WORRIED ABOUT THIS AND PRESSURE THE SINGAPORE GOVERNMENT TO BE MORE ACCOMMODATING OF CHINA

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One Belt, One Road, One Singapore – Analysis
Main routes of the Silk Road. Source: Wikipedia Commons.

In the 14th century, Mongol dominance in Asia resulted in the Pax Mongolica, a framework of peaceful trading relationships straddling the Maritime and Overland Silk Roads, allowing the Kingdom of Singapura to flourish into a wealthy entrepot trading port.

Today, the two roads are severed, and trade between Central Asia and Singapore is tiny, much more so for non-oil merchandise. The low volume of trade is evident considering Central Asia’s landlocked position presents a significant barrier of trade to the maritime trading hub that is Singapore. Today, China’s One Belt-One Road (OBOR) initiative promises to direct international attention to regional infrastructure development, effectively resurrecting a new Pax Sinica.

This new economic paradigm could well create exciting new opportunities for Singaporean trade and investment in an untapped region. This report will focus on Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, and the ways Singapore can capitalize on its unique expertise in the OBOR initiative.

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China no longer regards Singapore as a friend: pro-Beijing newspaper

Singapore Prime Minister’s absence from the One Belt One Road forum held in China earlier in May is “a watershed moment in regional affairs and marked the end of the era of amicable ties that Lee’s father, Lee Kuan Yew, had so painstakingly nurtured with Asia’s economic superpower.”

This was the view of “seasoned Asia-watchers”, said the pro-Beijing newspaper, The Global Times.

For the uninitiated, The Global Times is regarded as the vehicle whose “messages are a transmission from within the heart of CCP power.”

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PM Lee not invited to Belt and Road forum, is S’pore in trouble?

The high-profile “Belt and Road” Forum recently held in Beijing from May 14 to 15, attended by 29 national leaders and the representatives of 28 other countries, captured the world’s attention with Chinese President Xi Jinping pledging to splash the cash to help revive ancient trade routes and build infrastructure across the region.

The amount of investment planned so far for the initiative is massive – over US$1 trillion.

Even more trade and investment plans – US$113 billion-worth – was announced at the forum on top of previous commitments. It is no wonder that, China’s growing political and economic dominance coupled with the scope of “Belt and Road” has sparked concerns of possible debt-trap diplomacy among countries that have benefited or will benefit from China’s ambitious regional agenda.

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What China’s snub of Singapore means

But while nearly half of the 57 countries were not represented by their heads of government, foreign policy experts said Lee’s absence was conspicuous as it provided clues on the extent of the fallout following a protracted diplomatic spat between the two countries over the past year.

Xue Li, a senior research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences think tank, said China’s decision not to invite the Singaporean leader reflected a growing belief in Beijing that the Lion City sought only economic benefits from China, while “relying on the US for security”.

“China is gradually recognising this and therefore doesn’t really care if the Singapore PM attended or not,” Xue said.

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Singapore May Miss Out on Belt-Road Billions
China Snub Means Singapore May Miss Out on Belt-Road Billions

China’s plan for a maritime “Silk Road” to Europe is helping channel funds to Southeast Asia for roads, railways and ports.

But amid the deals bonanza, one country risks missing out. Despite strong historical and cultural ties to China, the tiny state of Singapore has found itself in Beijing’s crosshairs, in part for its stance over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

As other Southeast Asian leaders lined up to meet President Xi Jinping at a summit in Beijing this week for his Belt-and-Road Initiative, Singapore was represented by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong. China views Singapore as being less supportive of Xi’s plan.

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How China snubbed Singapore at the Belt and Road summit

Among the 29 Heads of State who converged on Beijing for the Belt and Road Summit earlier this week were leaders of seven of the ten ASEAN states. One leader was noticeably missing: Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Various observers have noted this absence, including Hugh White, who suggested it was no co-incidence that, like others - Japan, India, Australia and ‘most western countries’ - who had not sent their national leaders to Beijing, Singapore was aligned with the US and uneasy about China’s rise – ‘or perceived to be so’.

However, it has since emerged that Singapore was never given the choice. China had not invited Singapore’s prime minister in the first place. This is surprising, especially as Singapore has been one of the biggest advocates of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). While many other states were initially hesitant in signing up to BRI, including some of its ASEAN neighbours, Singapore’s support has been unequivocal from the beginning. Many high-level co-operation talks between China and Singapore on the subject have taken place, with both sides warmly welcoming cooperation on BRI.

In light of this past co-operation, Beijing’s snub is significant. It is fair to conclude that, if China continues to freeze out Singapore, there could be significant implications on at least three levels:
  • What it might mean for Sino-Singapore relations
  • Implications for other middle powers
  • Implications for China’s role in the world

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PM Lee’s absence in B&R forum in Beijing – is China still throwing a tantrum?

The reply by Minister of National Development, Lawrence Wong, was a curious and perhaps a telling one.

When asked by reporters on Tuesday why Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was not attending the Belt and Road forum in Beijing, Mr Wong said “the invitation was decided by the Chinese”, according to the Straits TimesMr Wong did not seem to have elaborated on his answer.

PM Lee’s absence has not gone unnoticed, given how several leaders from Asean countries were among the 29 heads of states who apparently were invited and attended the forum which ran from 14-15 May. Considering that the forum was also an important one, for China especially, the fact that PM Lee was not there is quite curious. After all, Singapore and China share, at least according to official statements, “deep ties’.

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Will Singapore be the biggest loser from China's One-Belt-One-Road initiative given that its trade routes can be bypassed?

As a Singaporean, I am worried. China is doing what is in her interests.

So, even if Singapore ends up being destroyed, we have ourselves to blame for not responding to this threat.

Don’t blame China. It would be nice if answers can suggest how Singapore can adapt to this threat.

related: Will Singapore falter after One belt one road initiative?

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One Belt, One Road – Analysis

In 2015, Singapore exported US$61.3 million worth of goods and services to Central Asia, while importing US$6.1 million, representing 0.015 percent of Singapore’s total exports and 0.002 percent of total imports; and 0.07 percent of Central Asia’s total exports and 0.009 percent of total imports.

While Singapore is a global trading and investment powerhouse, business experience and exposure in Central Asia has never been strong. In 2014, only 32 enterprises in Uzbekistan operated with Singaporean capital, and Singapore contributed only US$50 million of direct investment to Kazakhstan over the last ten years in contrast to US$604 billion of total foreign direct investment in 2014 alone.

Central Asia is not directly connected to Singapore, and land routes to ports in the region are scant. However, as the One Road-One Belt Initiative links Central Asia to China’s eastern seaboard, Gwadar port and even the impending sanction-free Iran; inter-regional trade is awash with new connections and opportunities.

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South China Morning Post SCMP 19 hrs
Why wasn't Singapore's PM Lee Hsien Loong invited to China's Belt and Road Summit?

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China's Belt and Road project could bring opportunities and challenges to S'pore: Minister Lawrence Wong

When asked why Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong did not attend the Belt & Road Forum, which was attended by 29 heads of state & government, including many from South-east Asia, Mr Wong said the invitation was decided by the Chinese.

He noted that the focus of the forum was on outbound investments, & in getting Chinese investments abroad and encouraging Chinese companies to go overseas.

"We don't have any specific projects as of now that may be part of this Belt & Road (initiative) in terms of infrastructure," he said.

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The PM wasn’t invited to Beijing

IT DIDN’T escape notice that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wasn’t at the biggest diplomatic event held in China over the weekend. The guest list was filled with luminaries including his counterparts in the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. There were in all 29 heads of state or government. Singapore was represented instead by Minister Lawrence Wong.
Asked why the PM Lee wasn’t there, he said that the invitation was decided by the Chinese.
So on Sunday, PM Lee was giving out flowers to his Ang Mo Kio constituents on the occasion of Mother’s Day, rather than hobnobbing with other leaders over what seemed to be the most ambitious economic project in recent time.

His absence in Beijing is intriguing and only serves to raise questions about whether Singapore and China had papered over their differences since the seizure of Singapore Armed Forces vehicles by Hong Kong authorities in November last year. Or are the Chinese still pissed off at Singapore’s lack of empathy over its position on the South China Sea?

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Straits Times: 3 myths about Singapore-China ties
“First, Singapore hasn’t changed in its foreign policy. It is China that has changed its view and demands on Singapore.”

China’s investments in Malaysia take “decades” to be developed:
  • "As for the Belt and Road displacing the Malacca Strait as the premier shipping belt, it would take many more years for that to happen, if not decades. Meanwhile, even as port projects are being planned around Malaysia and Indochina – presumably as alternatives to Singapore – port planners here aren’t keeping still. Singapore was named maritime capital of the world for the third time this year.”
  • "At the same time, China is still far too dependent on imports through the Malacca Strait to seriously oppose Singapore. The seizing of goods in ports can, after all, easily be done by both parties."
  • “China does not have much power to put Singapore back in line, as Chinese economic statecraft so far has been relatively unsuccessful. Singapore is also in a very different position from its neighbouring countries as it manages an advanced economy and many international security relationships across the world.”

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OBOR International Forum Vs Mother's Day

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong not invited
The Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, Indonesia’s Joko Widodo and Malaysia’s Najib Razak in a photo shared on Najib’s Twitter account. Photo: Twitter

According to China state media South China Morning Post (SCMP), the China central government has confirmed that Lee Hsien Loong was deliberately left out of the invitation at the Belt and Road forum.

Of the 10 ASEAN countries, Singapore Prime Minister’s absence is painfully conspicuous because Singapore is supposed to take over the ASEAN Chairmanship next year (2018).

When interviewed by a foreign media why he was not invited to the China meeting, Lee Hsien Loong gave an awkward silence.


Third Singapore-China project to be based in Chongqing
Chinese President Xi Jinping giving a speech at the state banquet held in his honour at the Istana on Nov 6, 2015.ST PHOTO: KOR KIAN BENG

The third Singapore-China government-led project will be based in Chongqing, Chinese President Xi Jinping said at a state banquet at the Istana on Friday (Nov 6).

"During my visit, the two sides will officially launch the third project based in Chongqing," Mr Xi said.

The bilateral project will be on the theme of "modern connectivity and modern services", and could help lower the cost of doing business in China's western region.

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Third Singapore-China govt-to-govt project to be in Chongqing
President Xi Jinping giving a speech at the state banquet held in his honour at the Istana (Photo: Jason Quah, TODAY)

President Xi announced that the third Singapore-China government-to-government project will be in the Chinese city of Chongqing. Officials had earlier said the project will focus on modern connectivity and modern services, but had not announced the location. Singapore and China already have joint projects in Suzhou Industrial Park and Tianjin Eco-city and Mr Xi said both are progressing well.

"China-Singapore ties have reached a new level of development," Mr Xi declared. "With the establishment of an all-round partnership that keeps pace with times, China will work with Singapore to seize the momentum in our political trust and deepen practical cooperation on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit and strengthen the coordination and collaboration on international and global issues."

On Saturday, the Chinese President is also expected to witness the signing of several Memoranda of Understanding with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and will deliver a lecture at the National University of Singapore.

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Chongqing picked for 3rd govt-to-govt project
Chongqing in south-western China, with a population of 33 million people, is one of the largest cities in the world

Yesterday, Chongqing Municipality was announced as the site of the third government-to-government project between Singapore and China, beating two other sites - Chengdu, capital of south-western Sichuan province, and Xi'an, capital of north-western Shaanxi province.

During their meeting yesterday, Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed on Chongqing as the site for the third government- to-government project.

The Chongqing project follows in the footsteps of the 1994 Suzhou Industrial Park and the 2008 Tianjin Eco-City.

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Third G-to-G project to be in Chongqing
Mr Xi and his wife Madam Peng waving upon arriving in Singapore on Nov 6, 2015. Mr Xi is on his first state visit here. Photo: Wee Teck Hian

A third urban mega project between Singapore and China will be launched in the western Chinese city of Chongqing, announced Chinese President Xi Jinping during a state banquet at the Istana yesterday (Nov 7).

“During my visit, our two sides will officially launch the third Government-to-Government (G-to-G) project based in the Chinese city of Chongqing,” Mr Xi said, lauding the “good progress” made by the existing G-to-G projects of Suzhou Industrial Park set up in 1994, and Tianjin Eco City in 2008.

“All these tangible results of cooperation speak volumes about the fresh vigour and vitality of our cooperation,” he added.

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Suzhou and Tianjin joint projects
Suzhou Industrial Park. PHOTO: ST FILE

Tianjin Eco-City. PHOTO: KEPPEL

There are two state-led projects. The Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP), launched in 1994, was the flagship government-level project. The park, based on Singapore's Jurong industrial estates, was built to attract foreign investors into Suzhou. It suffered losses in the initial years as Suzhou officials promoted a rival industrial park owned by the municipal government. Singapore cut its stake in the SIP from 65 per cent to 35 per cent in 2001, and it began making money that same year.

The second joint venture was the Tianjin Eco-City, which broke ground in 2008. The project, started to create a sustainable model for urban living, was home to some 30,000 residents as of August 2015. It suffered superficial damage to its buildings during deadly explosions at a chemical warehouse 16km away in August.

Xi's visit on Friday may see Singapore and China announce a third government-to-government project in western China.

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Tianjin Eco-City in 2008

The Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city’s vision is to be a thriving city which is socially harmonious, environmentally-friendly and resource-efficient.

It is a flagship cooperation project between the governments of Singapore and China.

It is planned for 350,000 residents.

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'Reasonable progress' at Tianjin Eco-city: Developer
The Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city Development. (Photo: Jeremy Koh)

The Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city development has made "reasonable progress" since it began seven years ago, said the CEO of its master developer. This is even though it has attracted just 20,000 residents - a fraction of the 350,000 projected to move in by the early to mid-2020s.

"Last year in the Eco-city, we sold more than 4,000 homes. That's more than half the total number of homes sold in Singapore last year; and we account for around 20 percent of the whole Tianjin Binhai New Area market,” said Mr Ho Tong Yen, CEO of Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Investment and Development Co. “So I would say it is a reasonable rate of progress for this project, taking into account the broader environment."

One of the residents is Singaporean Alex Tan, who works at Tianjin Eco-city. He has been based in Tianjin for the past five years. About a year ago, he decided to plonk down about US$190,000 for a three-bedroom apartment there. "Family time is very important. So immediately after work, I can just reach home in the shortest possible time, especially in this time during the spring, summer season when I get off work. When I come back, I can just bring the kids down to the playground or maybe take a stroll in the nearby Eco-valley," he explained.

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Overview of the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city project
Initiated in 2007, the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city is a bilateral, national-level cooperation project aimed at becoming a model for sustainable cities. It is the second flagship Government-to-Government project between Singapore and China after Suzhou Industrial Park.

As one of the key functional zones in the Tianjin Binhai New Area (TBNA), the development of the Eco-city will not only benefit its participants, but also contribute to the economic growth of the entire TBNA. It is being developed by the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city Investment and Development Company Ltd (SSTEC) which the Singapore Consortium (led by Keppel Corporation) and the Chinese Consortium (led by Tianjin TEDA Investment holdings) both have 50% equity in.

Under the project, a greenfield township of over 30 square kilometres will be developed over 10 to 15 years. The Eco-city’s basic infrastructure is complete and the first batch of residents moved into the city in early 2012. The SSTEC is planned for a population of 350,000. To cater to the community, the Eco-city is planning to set up schools, hospitals and retail malls. This opens up a myriad of opportunities for local companies looking to showcase their eco-solutions, collaborate in environmental services and other downstream areas like retail and education services.

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China's 'eco-cities': empty of hospitals, shopping centres and people
Residential buildings under construction in the £24bn Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city, 90 miles south-east of Beijing. Photograph: Bloomberg via Getty Images

Wang Lin needed a change. The crushing air pollution and gridlock traffic in his hometown Hangu, an industrial district in China’s northern metropolis of Tianjin, made him anxious and sometimes sick.

Then he heard about the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city. According to its marketing, the £24bn development – a joint venture between the governments of China and Singapore – will one day be a “model for sustainable development” only 40km from Tianjin’s city centre and 150km from central Beijing. To Wang, it sounded like paradise.

Last year, the 36-year-old moved into an inexpensive flat in one of the city’s half-occupied apartment blocks. As a freelance translator, he doesn’t mind that most viable employers are at least half an hour away by car. He loves the relatively clean air and the personal space. But he also has his complaints.

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Tianjin Eco-City rattled, but not for long
Home sales and inquiries in Tianjin Eco-City have returned to normal levels since the Aug 12 explosions, said Mr Liew Choon Boon, chief executive of SSTEC Investment and Development.PHOTO: TIANJIN ECO-CITY

Deadly explosions at a chemical warehouse in the northern port city of Tianjin earlier this month left behind a devastated industrial landscape and a murky tale of political malfeasance and corruption at the top.

The blasts, which killed 150 people, have also rattled a joint project between the Singapore and Chinese governments, 16km away.

The Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City (SSTEC) escaped with only superficial damage to its buildings but observers say collateral fallout could be greater, at least in the short term.

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Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Investment and Development Co., Ltd. now established

Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Investment and Development Co., Ltd. (SSTEC) marked its incorporation today. SSTEC has launched its new identity, the “Seed of the Future”, in a ceremony held in Tianjin. Projecting strong aspirations for a growing and glowing future, SSTEC’s new logo takes on a unique seed-like shape in bold red and orange hues. The seed, synonymous with life, is an apt symbol for the ecologically-balanced and sustainable way of living that SSTEC will create for its residents in the Tianjin Eco-City.

With an estimated total investment of RMB 2 billion when it is fully completed in the next five to six years, the Eco-Business Park is expected to be the foundation for global eco-businesses in Tianjin’s Binhai new area and Bohai’s rim. This is to serve Northern China’s growing need for clean technologies and sustainable urban solutions.

As the first of its kind in China, the Eco-Business Park will occupy approximately 30 hectares of land in the Tianjin Eco-City’s “Start-Up Area” and create a 24/7 vibrant and self-sustaining business community. Capitalising on the strategic positioning of the Eco-City, it will attract global clean technology and green R&D companies, as well as high value-added services such as business process outsourcing (BPO) companies which have low carbon footprint. When fully completed, the Eco-Business Park is expected to create over 15,000 professional jobs which will attract new residents and generate more economic spin-offs.

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Milestones of the SSTEC
  • November 2007: Singapore and China jointly decided to select Tianjin as the location for an eco-city. An agreement was inked between Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and then-Premier Wen Jiabao.
  • September 2008: Singapore and China broke ground for the joint project, their second after the Suzhou Industrial Park, aiming to make it a model of sustainable development.
  • February 2012: The first batch of residents moved into the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City (SSTEC).
  • September 2012: The first school started classes in the eco-city.
  • March 2013: The SSTEC was named the first National Green Development Demonstration Zone by China State Council.
  • September 2013: Some 1,000 firms were registered.
  • June 2014: The number of residents in the eco-city crossed the 10,000 mark.
  • July 2014: Companies in the eco-city can take yuan loans from banks in Singapore, among a range of other cross-border yuan transactions, as both countries stepped up financial cooperation.
  • August 2015: The number of residents reached 30,000 with 2,300 companies registered.
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Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city
天津中新生态城标牌

The Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city (SSTEC, simplified Chinese: 中新天津生态城; traditional Chinese: 中新天津生態城; pinyin: Zhōng-Xīn Tiānjīn Shēngtài Chéng) is the result of a collaborative agreement between the governments of China and Singapore to jointly develop a socially harmonious, environmentally friendly and resource-conserving city in China.

Designed to be practical, replicable and scalable, the Tianjin Eco-city will demonstrate the determination of both countries in tackling environmental protection, resource and energy conservation, and sustainable development, and serve as a model for sustainable development for other cities in China.

The Singaporean government formed a Ministerial Committee in 2011 in order to improve the coordination and support among its agencies for the project – reportedly a sign of the importance of the project to Singapore.

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“I’M NOT PROUD OF THIS PROJECT”: PHILIP YEO ON SUZHOU INDUSTRIAL PARK
“This project will fail,” said Goh Keng Swee

The China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) project in the 1990s between the two countries was fraught with problems from the get-go. But few have spoken openly about them until now.

In the book, “Neither Civil Nor Servant”, former chairman of the Economic Development Board (EDB),  Philip Yeo, shares why the project ran into so many issues that the majority ownership of the project was subsequently transferred from Singapore to China.

Mr Yeo, known for his shoot-from-the-hip bluntness which is matched only by that of the late former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, opens up in the book by Peh Shing Huei, former China bureau chief at the Straits Times.

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Suzhou Industrial Park in 1994

Investments in Suzhou & Tianjin based on gut feelings, no feasibility studies. TEMASEK Holdings took over Keppel Corp's stake in the 'knowledge city' project in Guangdong because it could take a longer view while public company shareholders are impatient for immediate returns, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said yesterday.

Speaking in Shanghai at the end of a three-day working visit, Mr Goh said the project could be the first of a 'new model' of China-Singapore collaborations, which would be led by private companies like Temasek.

Both countries' governments have worked together on previous large-scale industrial and development projects in Suzhou and Tianjin, but the new 'knowledge city' in Guangzhou city, in Guangdong province, will be led by the private sector instead.

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CHINA: SUZHOU PARK EX-CEO UNDER GRAFT PROBE

Bai Guizhi, former CEO of Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) has come under probe for graft. This is the first serious scandal to hit the Singapore China joint venture project. Bai resigned his post as CEO days after he came under investigation. He was appointed CEO of China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park Development Group (CSSD) less than three months ago. CSSD is a Singapore-China joint venture set up during the time of former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and the Chinese strong man Deng Xioping. It was announced that the current investigations have nothing to do with his work in SIP. The current investigations relate to his previous work in Jiangsu province where several officers were caught involving graft. It appears that Bai was implicated in the investigation of Feng Yajun , formerly a member of the standing committee of the Nanjing party committee.

Mr. Bai was previously chairman and general manager of the Suzhou Industrial Park Neighborhood Centre Development (SIPNC). This is a community club. In October 2012, Mr Bai signed on behalf the SIPNC to a joint venture with Guangzhou Zhicheng Real Estate Investment to build neighborhood centers in the Guangzhou Knowledge City, a private sector project between Singapore and China.

Current Chairman of CSSD will take over the role of CEO. He was previously the CEO of CSSD until he was succeeded by Bai. The previous CEO’s of CSSD from 1994 to 2000 were Singaporeans, when Singapore consortium had majority investment of 65% in SIP. Since then Singapore has reduced its investment to 28% in the loss making SIP. The teething problems came up because the local politicians promoted rival and precursor industrial park SND (Suzhou New District),

related: Ex-CEO of Suzhou park in graft probe

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China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park

The China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) project was launched in 1994 to develop a model industrial township within the city of Suzhou in China’s Jiangsu province. The first flagship joint project between the two governments, a key feature of the SIP involves the transfer of Singapore’s “software” – industrial development model and public-administration experience – to China. At the time, China was keen to study Singapore’s development model, while Singapore saw China as an important market for the country’s regionalisation drive. Both governments believed that the SIP, developed and managed based on Singapore’s approach, would be attractive for foreign direct investments. Profitable since 2001, the Singapore–China cooperation zone currently spans an area of 80 sq km. Besides industrial developments, the integrated township also encompasses residential areas, commercial and recreational facilities, as well as educational institutions.

Background - The origin of the SIP project can be traced to former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, who mentioned during his tour of southern China in February 1992 that the country could learn from Singapore in the areas of economic and social development. In Singapore, then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew saw China’s interest in the city-state as an opportunity that could benefit both countries. During a visit to China between September and October 1992, Lee expressed intent for a bilateral project through which Singapore would share its experience. On 18 December 1992, an agreement to confirm the mutual interest to develop an industry township in Suzhou was signed between the Singapore Labour Foundation (SLF) International and the Suzhou government. Thereafter, Lee sent a proposal for cooperation to China’s then vice-premier Zhu Rongji, which entailed a government-to-government transfer of Singapore’s knowhow in the development of an industrial township in Suzhou. Specifically, a 70-square-kilometre parcel of land in the east of Suzhou was selected for the proposed project.

Singapore decided to develop the industrial township in Suzhou for several reasons: its market was not yet saturated, there was not much industrial activity, and for the city’s advantageous geographical location. In addition, Jiangsu’s governor had expressed keen interest towards having Suzhou collaborate with Singapore. Suzhou’s mayor also reported that Deng Pufang, Deng Xiaoping’s son, supported the project, which implied endorsement from the Chinese central government.

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Singapore Industrial Park Flounders : A Deal Sours in China

It seemed like a fine idea when Singapore agreed with China in 1994 to build a giant $30 billion industrial park in the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou to serve as a model for attracting foreign investment to the world's most populous nation.

Five years later, the venture is heavily in debt — undermined by local officials who set up a rival park close by, forcing Singapore to cut its interests in the original project, Singapore officials say.

Singapore's senior minister, Lee Kuan Yew — who played a leading role in the effort to replicate the island-state's capitalist-style efficiency in the industrial heartland of China — conceded this week that the project had not turned out as planned and had made him more cautious about investments in China.

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UOB (China) Suzhou Branch Opens for Business

United Overseas Bank (China) Limited (UOB (China)) opened its 17th branch in Suzhou on November 5 in Suzhou Industrial Park. The newly opened Suzhou Branch aims to avail itself of the new experiment in financial innovation in Suzhou to provide cross-border RMB financing solutions for trade between China and Southeast Asian regions and to support the growing cross-border trade volume of Jiangsu Province.

The Singapore-headquartered UOB was incorporated in 1935 as a leading banking corporation in Asia with a network of over 500 offices spanning 19 countries and regions in Asia-Pacific, West Europe, and North America.

As a leading banking institution of the world, UOB has accumulated rich experience and expertise in cross-border financing, which will stand the newly established Suzhou Branch in good stead in offering services and products to Suzhou and other cities of Jiangsu in cross-border financing and the two-way capital pool solutions.

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Suzhou Industrial Park: 10 things to know about the China-Singapore project
Aerial view of Suzhou Industrial Park in China. -- PHOTO: CSSIPDC

The China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) celebrates its 20th anniversary in October. Here are 10 things to know about the project:

Origins - The SIP began in 1994 as a bilateral project for Singapore to share industrialisation experiences with China and was backed by former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and late Chinese strongman Deng Xiaoping.

Location - Suzhou was picked because of its proximity to the Shanghai financial hub and its educated, skilled talent pool.

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China–Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park
West Bank of Jin Ji Lake in Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP)

The China–Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park (simplified Chinese: 中国—新加坡苏州工业园区; traditional Chinese: 中國—新加坡蘇州工業園區; pinyin: Zhōngguó—Xīnjiāpō Sūzhōu Gōngyè Yuán Qū), or Suzhou Industrial Park for short, abbreviated as SIP, is a county-level administrative area located in Suzhou, China with significant Singaporean influence.

As China's modernisation drive gained momentum in the late 1980s, many Chinese delegations visited Singapore, a southeast Asian nation that achieved notable economic success within 30 years of independence. The Chinese visitors were eager to learn modern management methods, while Singapore was also planning Economic Regionalisation, which focused on overseas investment. In 1992, the idea of developing a modern industrial township with Singapore experience was broached. During his tour of southern China that year, China's late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping said: "Singapore enjoys good social order and is well managed. We should tap on their experience, and learn how to manage better than them."

After rounds of discussions and site surveys, both governments decided to join hands in developing a modern industrial park in the east of Suzhou. The China–Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park (CS-SIP) was thus born on February 26, 1994 when Chinese Vice Premier Li Lanqing and Singapore Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew signed the Agreement on the Joint Development of Suzhou Industrial Park in Suzhou.

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Suzhou Park saga



The new frontier
Two new sections added to Suzhou Industrial ParkInnocents abroad

Singapore plunge on Suzhou investment scary to China
China must change, warns Lee Kuan Yew
Losses in Singapore Suzhou project to hit US$90 million
S'pore to transfer ownership of Suzhou Park to China
Singapore sees no immediate profit from Suzhou project

Rival Suzhou park developers team up
Suzhou projecy: wounded pride
Suzhou: Sino-Singapore bid fails test
Singapore drops control of Suzhou Park
The Suzhou fig leaf
Irked Singapore may scale down industrial park near Shanghai
Builder of Suzhou mega-project seeks loan grace period
Spore govt loses patience with Suzhou Park
China "shenanigans"
Parliament queries Suzhou $115 million investment
The trouble with Singapore's clone


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Singapore-China ties: 7 things to know about 25 years of diplomatic relations
Chinese President Mr Xi Jinping (left) with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in 2010.PHOTO: ZAOBAO

Singapore and China mark 25 years of diplomatic relations this year.

On Friday (Nov 6), President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan will make their first state visit to Singapore. In many ways, the ties between Singapore, a city-state of 5.5 million, and China, a behemoth with 1.4 billion people, have been unique.

Here are seven things about the two countries' relationship.
  • HANDSHAKE SEALS THE DEAL
  • WHY DID IT TAKE SO LONG?
  • BACK IN THE 1970S
  • SENDING AMBASSADORS
  • WE MEAN BUSINESS
  • JOINT PROJECTS
  • PANDA DIPLOMACY
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Singapore Stumbles on China's Road
China Frictions May See Singapore Miss Out on Belt-Road Billions

Despite strong historical and cultural ties to China, the tiny state of Singapore has found itself in Beijing’s crosshairs, in part for its stance over territorial disputes in the South China Sea. As other Southeast Asian leaders lined up to meet President Xi Jinping at a summit in Beijing this week for his Belt-and-Road Initiative, Singapore was represented by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.

China views Singapore as being less supportive of Xi’s plan because unlike other countries that announced their leaders would attend without requiring a formal invitation, Singapore sought an invite, according to people familiar with the matter. They asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the information.
“The cooler political relationship between Singapore and China could have ripple effects which influence economic and trade relations,” said Lu Jianren, a researcher at the China-Asean Research Institute at China’s Guangxi University. “Singapore has been less proactive to work with China while many leaders in the region showed greater enthusiasm that they want Beijing to be more involved in Southeast Asian growth.”
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. “I wouldn’t say we have major problems; we’ve had some issues and some incidents,” Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said of China, in an interview aired by the BBC in March.

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New Silk Road 新絲綢之路 Xīn sīchóu zhī lù
Singapore as a 21st century maritime silk road
The "One Belt, One Road" 一带一路 initiative
The New Silk Road 新絲綢之路
Singapore And The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
Embracing, Leaning & Tilting towards China

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

Singapore military vehicles seizure in Hong Kong
Singapore - Isreal Bilateral Ties
Singapore - China Bilateral Ties
Singapore-India Relations
Singapore-China-US Relations
"Singapore - US" Bilateral Ties
Embracing, Leaning & Tilting towards China
The Historic Ma-Xi Summit