Leap Year Day 2024

Why Do We Have Leap Year?

Even though the standard calendar year is 365 days, Earth actually takes 365 days 5 hours 48 minutes and 46 seconds to go completely around the sun. (This is called a solar year.) In order to keep the calendar cycle synchronized with the seasons, one extra day is (usually) added every four years as February 29.

Where did this practice come from? Who came up with the idea to add an extra day to the year? There’s a very long (and complicated) story behind the history of the leap year. We could start with the early Egyptians (and other ancient civilizations) and their use of intercalation, or the practice adding extra days or months to the calendar, usually done for the sake of aligning time with solar and lunar schedules. But we’re going to fast forward for the sake of brevity and leap right into an explanation of how Julius Caesar affected timekeeping.

The Julian calendar (established by Caesar in 46 BCE) introduced the Egyptian solar calendar to the Roman world, standardized the 365-day year, and was the first attempt at using a leap year to match the calendar year to the solar year. However, this first version of a leap year was different than the one we know today: the Julian calendar didn’t have a February 29, rather February 24 was doubled (lasting 48 hours) every four years. But this didn’t fix the problem. There were still 11 minutes and 14 seconds unaccounted for. This doesn’t sound like much, but the seasons had shifted 10 days by the 16th century. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII created a slightly modified calendar to try to make the calendar match the solar year as closely as possible so the seasons wouldn’t shift again in the future. In order to accomplish this, the Pope’s new calendar had to have some oddly specific rules to account for all of the math going on.

Malaysian Ringgit falls to lowest level in 26 years

Malaysian Ringgit falls to lowest level in 26 years
The Singdollar was trading at RM3.568 as of 7pm on Feb 20

Malaysia's ringgit hit its lowest level since the Asian financial crisis on Tuesday (Feb 20), as emerging Asian currencies suffered against the dollar. In trade on Tuesday, the Malaysian ringgit fell nearly 0.3 per cent to almost 4.8 against the greenback, its worst reading since January 1998 during the Asian financial meltdown. The currency had suffered a more than 4 per cent drop already this year, thanks in part to poor export performance and rising US interest rates.

Malaysia's central bank governor Datuk Abdul Rasheed Ghaffour said on Tuesday that the currency's performance had been affected by "external factors" such as US rate hikes, geopolitical concerns and uncertainty about China's economic prospects. "The current level of the ringgit does not reflect the positive prospects of the Malaysian economy going forward," he said in a statement. He said expected growth in global trade and Malaysian exports should have a positive impact on the currency this year.

The ringgit had previously hit its lowest point since the Asian financial crisis in 2016, when emerging-market currencies were hammered by capital flight fuelled by an expected rise in US interest rates. Malaysia's second finance minister Amir Hamzah Azizan told state news agency Bernama on Monday he expected the currency to strengthen against the dollar after US authorities signalled an end to rate hikes. "Apart from that, all the hard work that the prime minister and finance minister... have done to bring in foreign direct investments will also play a part in strengthening the local economy," he said. "This will surely improve the ringgit."

Ringgit tanks to 26-year low; central bank maintains economic prospects remain positive

Malaysia’s central bank said the ringgit – which on Tuesday (Feb 20) fell to its lowest level since the Asian financial crisis 26 years ago – did not reflect the “positive prospects” of the Malaysian economy going forward.

The beleaguered currency momentarily slipped below 4.80 against the US dollar to 4.79, the weakest it has been since plunging to an all-time low of 4.8850 in 1998. Since Jan 1 this year, the ringgit has fallen by more than 4 per cent against the greenback as China’s slower than expected economic recovery continues to dent exports from Malaysia.

Against the Singdollar, the ringgit traded at RM3.568 at 8 pm on Tuesday, extending its record low. The ringgit has depreciated by 2.6 per cent against the Singdollar since Jan 1. In the last decade alone, the ringgit has plunged by over 37 per cent since the point when one Singapore dollar could buy RM2.60.

Ringgit’s Fall to 26-Year Low Sparks Central Bank Verbal Reply

The ringgit extended declines to its lowest level since the Asian financial crisis, prompting Malaysia’s central bank to say it doesn’t reflect the improving outlook for the economy. The local currency briefly slipped past 4.8 against the dollar on Tuesday, its weakest level since reaching an all-time low of 4.8850 in 1998. The ringgit has slid by over 4% so far in 2024 as China’s sluggish economy hurts exports from Malaysia, adding to the currency’s losses from the previous three years.

“BNM is of the view that the current level of the ringgit does not reflect the positive prospects of the Malaysian economy going forward,” Bank Negara Malaysia Governor Abdul Rasheed Ghaffour said in a statement Tuesday. “The recent performance of the ringgit, similar to other regional currencies, has been influenced by external factors.” A rebound in external demand and strong domestic spending will drive growth this year, Abdul Rasheed said. Malaysia’s exports have shown “steady” improvement since the fourth quarter, and the International Monetary Fund predicts global trade will pick up this year, he said. The nation’s exports in January grew by 8.7% year-on-year, ending 10 consecutive months of contraction. The tourism industry has “recovered strongly” and arrivals in 2024 are likely to exceed the pre-pandemic level of 26 million, the governor said. Investment momentum has picked up with the implementation of approved projects both in the private and public sectors, he said.

“Reflecting these positive developments and the government’s commitment to implement structural reforms and the expected lowering of interest rates in advanced economies, most analysts are forecasting for the ringgit to appreciate this year,” Abdul Rasheed said. Traders will be watching the latest inflation print due Friday, which will give clues on Bank Negara Malaysia’s ability to maintain interest rates. The ringgit closed 0.2% lower at 4.7987 per dollar in Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia companies braced for costly fallout as ringgit hits 26-year low
The ringgit last week slipped past 4.8 against the US dollar, the weakest level since January 1998, during the height of the Asian financial crisis. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO FILE

Malaysian businesses are paying a high price for their country’s weak currency, which is making importing materials and servicing foreign debt more costly. With the ringgit hitting a 26-year low, industries from airlines to raw material-intensive sectors are particularly at risk, according to S&P Global Ratings.

The ringgit has slid to its lowest level since the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s, and the government has assigned the central bank to closely monitor the currency, Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said on Feb 23. Malaysia’s central bank said on Feb 27 that the ringgit is undervalued and should be trading higher on account of the country’s positive economic fundamentals and prospects. Bank Negara Malaysia governor Abdul Rasheed Ghaffour said in a statement that the central bank has stepped up engagements with government-linked investment companies, government-linked firms, corporations and investors to encourage continuous inflows to the foreign exchange market.

“Given Malaysia’s positive economic fundamentals and prospects, the ringgit ought to be traded higher,” he said. The ringgit last week slipped past 4.8 against the United States dollar, the weakest level since January 1998, during the height of the Asian financial crisis. It strengthened slightly to 4.779 against the dollar by 1.04pm on Feb 27, and was trading at 3.5552 against the Singapore dollar.


Singapore to acquire eight additional F-35A

Singapore to buy eight F-35A fighter jets as defence spending inches up

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) will buy eight F-35A jets, continuing its build-up of a “next-generation” force to serve the country’s security needs.

The aircraft are expected to be delivered around 2030, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said during the Ministry of Defence’s (MINDEF) budget debate in parliament on Wednesday (Feb 28). This is on top of RSAF’s existing order of 12 F-35 jets of the “B” variant, expanding its full fleet of the fifth-generation US-made fighter aircraft to 20.

Once operational, the F-35 jets will put Singapore’s air force in the “premier league”, he said. The purchase is timed to capitalise on a “window of opportunity”. F-35 prices are now more competitive amid a healthy order pipeline for the jets globally, said Dr Ng, who did not reveal the cost of Singapore’s F-35A purchase.

RSAF to acquire eight F-35A fighter jets, growing its fleet to 20 F-35s

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) will acquire eight F-35A fighter aircraft, complementing the previously announced purchase of 12 F-35Bs, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.

This comes as the fifth-generation stealth planes have been proven on the battlefield, Dr Ng said during the debate on the Ministry of Defence’s (Mindef) budget on Feb 28. The eight F-35As will arrive around 2030. The announcement followed Mindef’s 2023 decision to buy eight F-35Bs, after an initial purchase of four F-35Bs in 2020. The aircraft is made by United States manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

The two F-35 variants have different strengths that will bolster the RSAF’s capabilities, Dr Ng told Parliament. “The F-35As are designed for greater endurance – they have the ability to carry payloads of higher capacity,” he said. “They complement the F-35Bs’ short take-off and vertical landing capability which provides more operational flexibility (in land-scarce Singapore).”


How are F-35As different from F-35Bs, and what will the new fighters add to Singapore's defence capabilities?
The 8 fifth-generation F-35A stealth fighter jets will grow Spore's F-35 fleet to 20, replacing the ageing F-16s

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen on Wednesday (Feb 28) announced that Singapore will buy eight F-35A jets, bringing the size of the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF) future F-35 fleet to 20 aircraft. 

Speaking at the Ministry of Defence's (MINDEF) budget debate in parliament, Dr Ng prefaced his speech by acknowledging that the "world has become a more dangerous place", referencing the Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas wars. He said a strong Singapore Armed Forces acts as a deterrence against aggression and adventurism. "If Singaporeans will not, or cannot, defend Singapore, there is no backstop," he said.

The latest purchase comes on top of existing orders for 12 F-35 jets of the B variant from US manufacturer Lockheed Martin. Once all are operational, they will put Singapore's air force in the "premier league", said Dr Ng. The F-35As are expected to be delivered in around 2030 while the F-35B jets ordered in 2020 and 2023 are projected to arrive in 2026 and 2028 respectively.

The F-35A vs. F-35B: What Exactly is the Difference?

Often times, the F-35 has been colloquially referred to as one aircraft in the media, or various versions of the F-35 have been conflated with each other. However, despite their shared “program,” the standard F-35A and the VSTOL F-35B are very different and even feature different fuselages in addition to the additional complexity introduced in the B variant.

Breakdown the differences between the various variants of the jet:
  • The primary difference between the two jets is that the B is less nimble in general. There are a multitude of reasons for this, many of which stem from the necessity for the B to have VSTOL capability.
  • The B variant is considerably “fatter” and bulkier than the F-35A as a result of the integration of the lift fan. This image overlays the fuselage shape of the F-35A over the F-35B, with the B being in orange. As a result of the increased frontal profile, the B has more drag.
  • This makes it slower to accelerate and harder to turn. Practically, the F-35B takes approximately eighteen more seconds to accelerate from Mach 0.8 to Mach 1.2 compared to the F-35A.
  • The increased profile and different weight also affects the potential turn rate, but practically, the F-35B is limited to pulling 7Gs maximum to avoid damage to internal components.
  • The B also has less internal fuel, but this is to be expected as it has additional parts that take up space in the fuselage that the A doesn’t. This limits its effective combat range versus the A, but it still is far superior to the other VSTOL aircraft that preceded it.
  • Weapons wise, there are a few small but important differences between the F-35A and F-35B. The most obvious one is the omission of the gun at the wing root on the F-35B due to the different fuselage shape.
  • Instead, the F-35B can mount a gun pod centerline under the fuselage with a stealthy fairing. This pod can carry an additional forty rounds versus the F-35A’s internal gun and could potentially be more accurate as it’s directly center relative to the HUD and cockpit.
  • The weapons that the F-35B can carry internally are also different than the F-35A. Again, due to different requirements and fuselage shape, the internal weapon bays of the F-35B carry less weight than the F-35A.
  • The biggest implication is that the F-35B cannot carry the massive two-thousand-pound bombs stealthily, in order to employ them they must be hung from the external weapon pylons. Most of the United States’ “bunker buster” bombs weigh that much, so the F-35B would not be able to perform a stealthy mission against a deep hardened target, whereas the F-35A would.
  • The two and ten pylons on the wings also can carry less weight, so the F-35B has less overall munitions capability than the F-35A in that regard as well. However, it’s unlikely that the F-35B would want to operate at its max load in the first place given that it cannot vertically land with the maximum weight. If the F-35B took off with the maximum takeoff weight, it either would have to expend its stores in combat or jettison them before landing.
  • All of these limitations may make it seem like the F-35B once in flight is by and large just a worse version of the F-35A. While this is true, it’s important to consider the roles of the aircraft. The F-35B is far closer in capability to the F-35A than the AV-8B was to the F-16C.

Singapore to acquire 8 more F-35B fighter jets, growing fleet to 12
A United States Marine Corps F-35B on its landing approach. (Photo: CNA/Jeremy Long)

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) will acquire another eight F-35B fighter jets, growing its incoming fleet of the fifth-generation fighters to 12.

Singapore will take delivery of the eight jets from US manufacturer Lockheed Martin "by the end of the decade", Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said in Parliament on Friday (Feb 24). In 2019, Singapore announced the acquisition of an initial four F-35Bs, which are on track for delivery by 2026. The purchase was worth an estimated US$2.75 billion, according to a US government press release.

That deal included an option for eight more F-35 jets. Dr Ng on Friday said the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) had decided to exercise the option for the F-35B variant after an extensive evaluation. "MINDEF and the SAF have concluded that the F-35 is the best choice to meet our defence needs now and in the future," he told Parliament.

RSAF personnel trained with USMC F-35Bs at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma located in Arizona, US

The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) will purchase eight more F-35B Joint Strike Fighters, to be added to its fleet by the end of the decade.

This follows the agreement of purchase of four F-35Bs first, which was inked in 2020. Since then, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) was given exclusive access to information and facilities of the aircraft, allowing them to conduct robust evaluations. "All of these have given us valuable insights (on the F-35Bs)", said Minister of Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen, who announced the acquisition of additional jets during his speech at the Committee of Supply debate on the defence budget on 24 Feb.

"MINDEF and the SAF have concluded that the F-35 is the best choice to meet our defence needs now and in the future," said Dr Ng. The F-35Bs will replace the ageing F-16 jets, which have been in service since 1998 and are reaching obsolescence globally from the mid-2030s.

Singapore to acquire eight additional F-35Bs
The Republic of Singapore Air Force's F-15SG and F-16D flying alongside the Royal Australian Air Force's F-35Bs during a multilateral exercise. (Singapore Ministry of Defence)

The Singapore government is exercising the option to acquire eight more short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL)-capable F-35B fighter aircraft, in addition to the initial four airframes of the type that it has already signed for in 2019.

The matter was disclosed by the country's Minister of Defence Ng Eng Hen during a parliamentary session on 24 February. He was speaking during a Committee of Supply debate session following the country's budget statement for 2023. Singapore's Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) first announced in March 2019 that it would purchase four F-35Bs, with the option to purchase eight more. The initial airframes will be deployed in the US for training and evaluation when the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) receives them in 2026.

“Following an extensive and robust evaluation, MINDEF will proceed to exercise the option and purchase eight additional F-35Bs, which is necessary to enable the Republic of Singapore Air Force to strengthen its next-generation capabilities as part of the Singapore Armed Forces [SAF] 2040 transformation,” said Ng.

RSAF to acquire 8 more F-35B fighter jets, bringing its fleet to 12
The Defence Ministry decided to exercise the option to purchase eight more of the fifth-generation fighter jets after a full evaluation. PHOTO: ST FILE

The Ministry of Defence will acquire eight more F-35B Joint Strike Fighters, growing its fleet to 12 of the jets by the end of this decade.

With the full complement of these fifth-generation stealth jets, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) will further hone its fighting edge even after it phases out older warplanes that are approaching obsolescence, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said on Friday.

“This acquisition will support the progressive drawdown of our ageing F-16s, which will retire from the mid-2030s,” he said. “Which means that at steady state, the RSAF will operate the F-35 and F-15 fighter planes, the most advanced in the region.”



The New 7 Wonders of the World

What Are the New Seven Wonders of the World?

We might have all heard of the ancient ‘seven wonders of the world’, but which incredible artefacts make up the most recent list?

The first ‘seven wonders of the ancient world’ list was made more than 2000 years ago, by adventurous Hellenic travelers who marveled at the world’s most incredible man-made constructions. Since then, most of the original list have been destroyed, aside from the Great Pyramid of Giza. What Happened to the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World? In 2001, Swiss-born, Canadian filmmaker Bernard Weber set up the New7Wonders Foundation to find a new seven wonders of the world for the modern era, asking members of the public to cast their votes. After months of deliberating, debating and shortlists, these are the impressive feats that made the final cut.

The New Seven Wonders of the World:
  • The Colosseum, Rome, Italy - The Colosseum is the great oval amphitheater in the center of Rome where gladiators once fought for their life. The largest amphitheater ever built, it was constructed from sand and stone over eight years, from AD72 to AD80. The colossal structure could hold 80,000 spectators, arranged in a circular ring around the central stage. Dramatic and sometimes horrifying events took place here, not just gladiatorial games, but also Classical plays, animal hunts and executions. Some say water was even pumped into the arena to enact mock sea battles. Partially damaged by earthquakes and stone robbers over the centuries, the Colosseum is still an iconic memento of Roman history, visited by thousands of tourists every year, so it stands to reason it would make the list of today’s seven wonders of the world.
  • The Great Wall of China - The Great Wall of China is a huge barrier that spans thousands of miles along China’s historic northern border. Created over millennia, the wall began its life as a series of smaller walls dating back to the 7th century BCE, built as protective barriers against nomadic raids. In 220 BCE, China’s first Emperor Qin Shi Huang masterminded the unification of all China’s walls into one almighty barrier, strengthening and extending the wall to keep out northern invaders. Today the wall is recognized as one of the seven wonders, which, including all its branches, measures a whopping 13,171 miles.
  • The Taj Mahal, India - India’s renowned Taj Mahal (Persian for Crown of Palaces) is the stunning white marble mausoleum on the bank of the Yamuna River in the city of Agra, and it has been selected as one of the seven wonders of the world. Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan built the temple as a tomb for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died during childbirth in 1631. A marble tomb in the center is surrounded by 42 acres of grounds, where gardens, a mosque, guest house and pool complete the complex. The entire project took over 22 years to complete by 20,000 workers at a cost of 32 million rupees (around US$827 million by today’s standards). But the hard work paid off – today the Taj Mahal is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a vital component of India’s rich Mughal history.
  • Christ the Redeemer, Brazil - The totemic statue of Christ the Redeemer stands over Rio de Janeiro on the top of Mount Corcovado. At 30 meters tall, this monument is an iconic emblem of Brazil. This huge public artwork was designed by the Polish-French sculptor Paul Landowski in the 1920s and completed by Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa, and French engineer Albert Caquot in 1931. Made from reinforced concrete clad in over 6 million soapstone tiles, Christ the Redeemer is the largest Art Deco sculpture in the world. Built just after the end of the First World War, the sculpture was an overpowering symbol of Christianity and hope when the world had been brought to its knees, so its no surprise that this monument made the list for today’s seven wonders.
  • Machu Picchu, Peru - Machu Picchu is a lost treasure of the 15th century, a rare citadel discovered high in the Andes mountains above the Peruvian Sacred Valley. Astonishingly, it is one of the only pre-Columbian ruins found nearly intact, featuring evidence of former plazas, temples, agricultural terraces and homes. Archaeologists believe the citadel was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti in around 1450 in polished drystone walls. The Incas abandoned the site a century later and it remained hidden for millennia, before being brought to public attention by American historian Hiram Bingham in 1911. Because of this remarkable preservation, it is recognized today as one of the seven wonders.
  • Chichén Itzá, Mexico - Deep in the Mexican state of Yucatán lies Chichen Itza, a historic Mayan city built between the 9th and 12th centuries. Constructed by the pre-Columbian Mayan tribe Itzá, the city includes a series of monuments and temples. The most celebrated is El Castillo, also known as the Temple of Kukulcan. It is a huge step pyramid in the center of the city which was built as a devotional temple to the god Kukulkan. In total, the entire temple features 365 steps, one for each day of the year. Even more impressively, during the spring and summer equinoxes, afternoon sun casts triangular shadows down the pyramid’s north stairway that resemble a feathered serpent slithering down its surface, heading towards a stone snake head at the base – no wonder it is one of the seven wonders today!
  • Petra, Jordan - Petra, the ancient city in southern Jordan, is also known as the ‘rose city’ for its golden hue. It dates as far back as 312 BC. Set in a remote valley, this ancient city was founded by the Arab Nabataeans, a sophisticated civilization that carved stunning architecture and complex waterways out of surrounding rock faces. The Nabateans also established Petra as a successful trade hub, earning vast wealth and a booming population before being wiped out by earthquakes. Unknown to the Western world for centuries, the city was uncovered in 1812 by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. 19th-century poet and scholar John William Burgon described Petra as “a rose-red city half as old as time.”

New 7 Wonders of the World
From left to right, top to bottom: Chichen ItzaChrist the Redeemer, the Great Wall of ChinaMachu PicchuPetra, the Taj Mahal, and the Colosseum

The New 7 Wonders of the World was a campaign started in 2001 to choose Wonders of the World from a selection of 200 existing monuments. The popularity poll via free Web-based voting and small amounts of telephone voting was led by Canadian-Swiss Bernard Weber and organized by the New 7 Wonders Foundation (N7W) based in Zurich, Switzerland, with winners announced on 7 July 2007 in Lisbon, at Estádio da Luz. The poll was considered unscientific partly because it was possible for people to cast multiple votes.[6] According to John Zogby, founder and current President/CEO of the Utica, New York–based polling organization Zogby International, New 7 Wonders Foundation drove "the largest poll on record".[4]

The program drew a wide range of official reactions. Some countries touted their finalist and tried to get more votes cast for it, while others downplayed or criticized the contest. After supporting the New 7 Wonders Foundation at the beginning of the campaign by providing advice on nominee selection, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), bound by its bylaws to record and give equal status to all World Heritage Sites, distanced itself from the undertaking in 2001 and again in 2007. The 7 winners were chosen from 21 candidates, which had been whittled down from 77 choices by a panel in 2006.

What Are The 7 Wonders Of The World?

Ancient Greek pilgrims compiled a list of the most astonishing creations they came across in their trials, and today, we honor that legacy by doing the same. As of 2007, according to the New7Wonders Foundation, these are the most stunning constructions people have ever built:
  • The Great Wall Of China - China, Built In 700 BCE - A creation that serves as one of the largest archives of historical documents and a morgue, the Great Wall of China has gone far beyond its original purpose as just a defensive measure. Let's unpack that: because it was in construction for nearly 2,000 years by separate dynasties, inscriptions, and corpses are carved and buried onto and into this megalithic icon. Furthermore, tourist hype forced Chinese authorities to implement a daily limit of 65,000 visitors in places like the Badaling section of the Great Wall. It is hard to estimate the total annual visitors due to it being 5,500 miles (8,851 km) long, but around 150 million inbound tourists visit Beijing each year, and travel bloggers frequently claim that almost all tourists visiting Beijing are planning to check out the wall. In ancient times, foreign visitors were the antithesis of the wall's purpose because it was designed to prevent invasions by northern tribes, although it occasionally failed, like when Ghengis Khan overran it in 1214 CE with his nomadic army. Sadly, many stretches of the wall have vanished because of erosion and human disturbance. It also has a history as a form of border control for the Silk Road era, and it expedited the transmission of information from one region to another. Also, emperors would frequently expand or reinforce it as a demonstration of their dynasty's power and wealth. Despite popular belief, the wall is not visible from space, but it is visible in person; this is all the more reason to book a flight and check it out.
  • Petra - Jordan, Built In 312 BCE - "This is impossible" is a common thought for those who stand beneath the carved red-rock mountains in Petra. Yet, there it is. This ancient trading hub is larger than any painting or picture can capture, which is a reality that its one million annual visitors can understand. The buildings, sculpted straight out of the canyon walls, would have been endangered by sudden flash floods, but the Nabateans (a wealthy arab kingdom) designed a complex water control system to manage this. Due to the desert climate, they even installed an intricate series of dams, canals, and reservoirs into the rock faces to maintain a consistent water supply for 20,000 inhabitants. Those grooves still exist in the rock walls today, collecting moisture the same way as they did two thousand years ago. Additionally, a legend once existed regarding a carved urn in the Treasury facade: Bedouin sharpshooters left bullet holes across it hundreds of years ago, believing that it held priceless riches within. The original occupants were also religious, and several of the carved buildings, like the Monastery and High Place of Sacrifice, were designed for ritual. More recently, the abandoned city has been the site of films like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. If you stumble across the complex today, a group of resilient people still reside in the carved homes, peddling crafts and offering rides on camels and horses.
  • The Colosseum - Italy, Built In 80 CE - Emperors are addicted to cementing their legacy by constructing incredible wonders, and the relationship between Emperor Vespasian and the Colosseum he commissioned is no different. The project was so grand that it was his son Titus' responsibility to complete it, and Emperor Domitian earned a little credit by making substantial modifications. Roman concrete, limestone, and volcanic rock were essential ingredients to this 50,000-spectator arena, and earthquakes and stone thieves tried and failed to tear it down. It was not a site for friendly bouts of football and musical concerts — gladiators fought for a bloody victory, battles were reenacted, and terrifying, exotic animals were put on display. The effort had a singular purpose beyond mere spectacle: to provide the crowds with entertainment as a means of preventing unrest, which can lead to riots and regime change. However, after Rome collapsed, the space was converted into housing, workshops, and even religious spaces during the medieval eras. Today, over six million people visit it each year, and it continues to host exciting exhibitions and shows.
  • Chichén Itzá, Mexico, Built In 600 CE - This site is a golden example to prove that Egyptians were not the only ones capable of constructing enormous pyramids. The largest structure, El Castillo, is 98 feet and utilizes 365 stone steps to represent the solar year. The Maya people went beyond just sheer scale: during the equinoxes, a mystical shadow appears due to ingenious engineering, and a serpent's shadow appears to slither down the staircase. Naturally, this attention to detail means that the whole area was a religious, political, and economic center for the Mayan civilization that seems to have vanished overnight, abandoning all settlements by 900 CE. Stone tools were enough to create this 5 km2 complex, which is one of the reasons it fits as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Astronomy and acoustics were common sciences in this city, which is fitted with an ancient observatory, and whispers at one end of the Ball Court can be heard 135 meters away at the other end. Human sacrifices were performed here, but thankfully, its 3 million yearly visitors will not have to witness those extinct practices.
  • Machu Picchu, Peru, Built In 1450 CE - Can you imagine the astonishment of those who discovered this metropolis, seemingly floating on clouds between mountains? The Machu Picchu, perched high in the Andes Mountains of Peru, is a stone's throw from Cuzco. Although it was well known to the local people, the West took note of it in 1911 when it was spotted by the American explorer Hiram Bingham. It was initially believed to be Vilcabamba, a hidden Incan haven during the Spanish resistance. The genuine intent behind this 15th-century structure, however, remains debated, with suggestions that it served as a sanctuary for the revered 'Virgins of the Sun,' a place of worship, or perhaps a regal escape. Notwithstanding its remote and towering position, travelers can step back in time amidst meticulously preserved Incan edifices showcasing farming terraces, open squares, living quarters, and skillfully designed shrines. Erected around 1450 as an imperial commission under Inca ruler Pachacuti, the site mesmerizes onlookers with its smooth, dry-stone construction and breathtaking vistas of the encompassing valley.
  • The Taj Mahal - India, Built In 1643 CE - The Taj Mahal welcomes an astonishing 35 to 40 thousand visitors every day — and with busy seasons, it is no stranger to up to 8 million visitors annually. The origin of this marbled expression of love lies in the celebrated reign of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan 400 years ago. This leader had a desire to build a monument to the object of his affection and favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Ultimately, it exists as a tomb for her, but she is certainly one of the few people who will not be forgotten as time goes by. It took 20 thousand artisans to create this place, with precious jewels and marble that are said to gleam pink and white depending on the time of day. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site (since 1983), the architecture is a celebration of the Mughal style. One fascinating choice the designers made was to slightly tilt the four minarets (towers) away from the main structure so that in the case of disaster, they would not collapse towards the tomb and cause more damage. Bear in mind, if you take the pilgrimage there, that the complex also hosts a brilliant mosque and a guest house that are worthy of appreciation, too.
  • Christ The Redeemer, Brazil, Built In 1931 CE - The Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro is an awe-inspiring symbol of both faith and architectural brilliance. Overlooking the city from atop Mount Corcovado, this religious icon is visited by almost 2 million people per year. Initiated in the period following World War I, its creation from 1926 to 1931 was a collective endeavor involving Heitor da Silva Costa, Carlos Oswald, and Paul Landowski. With a striking height of 98 feet and its arms reaching 92 feet wide, it's a marvel to behold. The base further elevates its grandeur by 26 feet. Made of reinforced concrete and embellished with over six million tiles, this statue is recognized as the world's most prominent Art Deco figure. Despite weather challenges, like lightning strikes, it remains steadfast, only once suffering damage to Jesus's right thumb in 2014. From almost any location in Rio, its silhouette can be discerned, providing incredible views and drawing both believers and admirers. Its significance and beauty rightfully earn it a place among the world's most revered landmarks.

The Original Seven Wonders of the World
Colossus of Rhodes, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Lighthouse of Alexandria, Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Temple of Artemis, Great Pyramid of Giza, (the most ancient as well as the only surviving structure)

While new lists have been made over time of the Seven Wonders of the World, the original list dates back to the 2nd century BCE. Back in antiquity, most of the world was not yet known to those who created this first list of wonders, so only a certain region of the world was covered. In 2000, a new official list of the Seven Wonders of the World was created to incorporate man-made structures all across Earth.

the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World:
  • Great Pyramid of Giza - The Great Pyramid was built near Cairo, Egypt around 5,000 years ago. Of the original seven wonders on this list, the Great Pyramid is the only one that is still standing to this day. For the first 3,800 years of its existence, the Great Pyramid was the largest man-made structure on Earth. The purpose of its construction was to serve as a tomb for an Egyptian pharaoh name Khufu. The Great Pyramid originally stood at 481 feet (146.6 m) tall. However, today it stands at 454.4 feet (138.5 m) tall. This is mostly due to the removal of the top limestone layer over time.
  • Colossus of Rhodes - In 280 BCE, a gigantic statue of the Greek sun god Helios was erected in Rhodes, Greece. The statue served as a gateway into the city’s port. Prior to the statue’s construction, Rhodes had been under constant siege by foreign invaders for an entire year. Eventually, the Greeks won and forced the invaders out of their land. Following this victory, the Greeks built the Colossus of Rhodes as a celebration. The statue stood 108 feet (32.9 m) tall, which is about the same as the modern-day Statue of Liberty without its base. It was the tallest statue in the Ancient World. 54 years after it was built, the gigantic statue was destroyed by a massive earthquake, leaving it only a memory in history.
  • Hanging Gardens of Babylon - Although there are only mentions of it in history, the Hanging Gardens were said to have been created in the ancient city of Babylon (located in modern-day Iraq) between 605 – 562 BCE. It was designed by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II for his wife, Queen Amytis. Amytis had moved to the desert city of Babylon for her husband, though she missed the green hillsides from her homeland. Therefore, the King found it to be a good idea to create the Hanging Gardens for the Queen as a beauty of nature. Its destruction, and exact location, remain unknown.
  • Lighthouse of Alexandria - The Ptolemaic Kingdom was responsible for building the Lighthouse of Alexandria sometime between 280 – 247 BCE. The Lighthouse was built to be used at the port in Alexandria, Egypt. Its construction took twelve years to complete. Once finished, the Lighthouse became one of the tallest man-made structures on Earth (behind the Great Pyramid). The Lighthouse of Alexandria stood at 330 feet (100.5 m) tall, and was in use for over one thousand years. Between 956 – 1323 CE, a series of earthquakes slowly deteriorated the Lighthouse and eventually caused it to collapse.
  • Mausoleum at Halicarnassus - Mausolus was the mighty ruler of the Achaemenid Empire. In 353 BCE, he died, just as every other ruler does. However, a special tomb was designed for Mausolus. This tomb, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, was completed in 350 BCE in the ancient city of Halicarnassus, Greece (modern-day Bodrum, Turkey). The Mausoleum stood at 148 feet (45.1 m) tall and was one of the most extravagant buildings of its time. Of the six out of seven wonders that have been destroyed, the Mausoleum lasted the longest, all the way up until roughly 1400 CE when a series of earthquakes brought the Mausoleum to ruins. The modern word “mausoleum” comes from this.
  • Statue of Zeus at Olympia - Zeus was the Greek god of thunder, and was thought to be the sky itself. He had his own temple built in Olympia, Greece. Around 453 BCE, Greek sculptor Phidias decided to build a statue of Zeus within the temple. When completed, the statue was 41 feet (12.4 m) tall and portrayed Zeus sitting on a throne. The locals believed that if Zeus were to ever stand up, he would unroof the temple. Many Greeks used the temple as a place of worship. The Statue of Zeus, along with the Temple of Zeus, stood until it was destroyed in a large fire around 425 CE.
  • Temple of Artemis - Greeks clearly loved their gods, and they built many temples because of this. One temple was built for Artemis, goddess of the hunt, the wilderness, wild animals, the Moon, and chastity. She was also the daughter of Zeus. The Temple of Artemis was constructed in the ancient city of Ephesus (located in modern-day Turkey). Although its construction date is unknown, what is known is that the temple was destroyed and rebuilt twice. By 401 CE, however, the temple lay in ruins. Today, small remains of the Temple of Artemis can viewed where the grand wonder once stood.

Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (from left to right, top to bottom): Great Pyramid of GizaHanging Gardens of BabylonTemple of ArtemisStatue of Zeus at OlympiaMausoleum of MaussollosColossus of Rhodes, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria as depicted by sixteenth-century Dutch artist Maarten van Heemskerck

The Seven Wonders of the World (or the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) is a widely known list of seven remarkable constructions of antiquity. It was based on guide-books popular among Hellenic sightseers and includes only works located around the Mediterranean rim. Later lists include those for the medieval world and the modern world.

The original Seven Wonders of the World consists of the Great Pyramid of Giza(the most ancient as well as the only surviving structure), Hanging Gardens of BabylonTemple of ArtemisStatue of Zeus at OlympiaMausoleum of MaussollosColossus of Rhodes, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria.

The notion of "Seven Wonders" can be traced to a Hellenistic recognition of trans-cultural human achievement that found expression throughout the Hellenistic world. For thousands of years, the Seven Wonders of the World have inspired humankind as representative works symbolic of the great civilizations of antiquity. In terms of innovative design, elaborate construction, technological mastery, and symbolic meaning, the Seven Wonders have not only showcased the high points of diverse civilizations but tied humankind together in the common pursuit of intellectual excellence and self-expression.

Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, also known as the Seven Wonders of the World or simply the Seven Wonders, is a list of seven notable structures present during classical antiquity. The first known list of seven wonders dates back to the 2nd–1st century BC.

While the entries have varied over the centuries, the seven traditional wonders are the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Temple of Artemis, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Using modern-day countries, two of the wonders were located in Greece, two in Turkey, two in Egypt, and one in Iraq. Of the seven wonders, only the Pyramid of Giza, which is also by far the oldest of the wonders, still remains standing, while the others have been destroyed over the centuries. There is scholarly debate over the exact nature of the Hanging Gardens, and there is doubt as to whether they existed at all.


Suzhou Industrial Park: 30 years on

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.5 Besides industrial developments, the integrated township also encompasses residential areas, commercial and recreational facilities, as well as educational institutions.

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.7 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.8 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.9 Specifically, a 70-square-kilometre parcel of land in the east of Suzhou was selected for the proposed project.

On 26 February 1994, Lee and then Chinese vice-premier Li Lanqing signed the government-to-government agreement on software transfer and joint development of a special economic zone in Suzhou to better attract foreign investors. Also inked on the same day was the commercial agreement on the formation of the joint venture, with 65 percent of its shares owned by SSTD and 35 percent by a Chinese consortium, the Suzhou United Development Company (SUDC). The joint-venture entity known as the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park Development Company (CSSD) – comprising SSTD and SUDC – was responsible for the development, management and commercial viability of the SIP.16 The two countries also established a joint steering council – first co-chaired by Li Lanqing and Singapore’s then Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong – to review and tackle any key issues on the township project. A ground-breaking ceremony for the SIP was held on 12 May 1994.

Suzhou Industrial Park: 20 years on

The China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) celebrates its 20th anniversary in October. Here are 10 things to know about the project:
  • 1. 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.
  • 2. Location: Suzhou was picked because of its proximity to the Shanghai financial hub and its educated, skilled talent pool.3. Size: The park occupies a 288 sq km area in eastern Suzhou, about a third of Singapore's size. 80 sq km belongs to the China-Singapore cooperation zone.
  • 4. Stakeholders: Singapore initially held a 65 per cent stake in the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park Development Group (CSSD), with the rest by China.
  • 5. Focus: The project aims to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, and to attract high-tech industries, especially software-focused information technology and biotechnology industries.
  • 6. Success: The SIP is ranked the second-best industrial park in China and regularly tops developmental indices. Its gross domestic product in 2013 was 190 billion yuan (S$39.6 billion), up from one billion yuan in 1994.
  • 7. Companies: The park is best known among the locals as "Yang (Foreign) Suzhou" - home to majority of Suzhou's expatriates and the base for Fortune 500 giants such as Samsung, UPS and Motorola.
  • 8. Facilities: SIP has a range of facilities including housing, retirement village, recreational and senior care facilities, as well as schools including the Suzhou Singapore International School.
  • 9. Challenges: SIP faces several key challenges. For example, low-end, labour-intensive industries like electrical manufacturing are being replaced by high-tech and service industries like nanotechnology and finance.
  • 10: Singapore DNA: As it changes itself to cope with new challenges, many experts say the most crucial factor for the SIP is to maintain its Singapore DNA.

Suzhou Industrial Park
The industrial park was established on 26 February 1994

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, Jiangsu, China.

The industrial park was established in February 1994, as part of the reform and opening up campaign in the 1990s and is unique in its joint governance by Chinese and Singaporean officials. While the park struggled at first and attracted international notoriety following a very publicized falling out between the two sides, it quickly began making a profit due to highly desirable real estate and the presence of many large global corporations and remains an economic engine for the city. The Suzhou Industrial Park spans an area of 278 square kilometres (107 sq mi), and has a population of 807,800 permanent residents, per a 2019 publication released by the industrial park. In 1992, the idea of developing a modern industrial area with Singaporean 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. Suzhou was chosen as the site due to its proximity to the financial hub of Shanghai, as well as its educated and skilled labor pool. The China–Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park (CS-SIP) was thus born on February 26, 1994, when Chinese Vice Premier Li Lanqing and Singaporean Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew signed the Agreement on the Joint Development of Suzhou Industrial Park in Suzhou. Upon its inception, the Singaporean government held a 65% stake in the Suzhou Industrial Park, while the Chinese government held a 35% stake.

Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City to have green innovation park, be a model for other Chinese cities
15th anniversary of Tianjin Eco-City. (Photo: Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Investment and Development)

As the China-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City marks its 15th anniversary this year, both countries announced on Thursday (Dec 7) that it will be developed into a zone that exemplifies low-carbon economic growth and serves as a model for other Chinese cities.

Works for a green innovation park will also begin this year at the Eco-City’s city centre. Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong officiated a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, along with Chinese Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang. These developments fall under a new framework unveiled by Singapore and China at the 15th Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Joint Steering Council (JSC). JSCs review the progress of and discuss further cooperation on the three flagship China-Singapore government-to-government projects, including Tianjin Eco-City.

Today, the Eco-City is home to more than 150,000 people – up from 20,000 in 2014 – and 30,000 companies. Launched in 2008, it now houses a range of residential developments, community and recreational spaces, as well as schools and workplaces. Singapore’s Ministry of National Development (MND) said in a press release that the new framework “will strengthen the Eco-City as a pathfinder for climate-friendly cities”, as well as broaden bilateral cooperation between both countries.

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. Confidence in Tianjin's government and the reputation of the Binhai New Area, where the eco-city is located, have taken a hit amid fears that the air and water near the explosion site are now contaminated. Some 11 officials and port executives are being investigated for dereliction of duty or abuse of power.

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.

Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city

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 a planned city developed jointly between the governments of China and Singapore. Located in Binhai, the project was deliberately built on "non-arable" land with a "water shortage" to the southeast of Tianjin's urban core, for the declared purpose of serving as a "demonstration that sustainable urbanisation could be achieved despite difficult environmental challenges". The city's site spans an area of 30 square kilometres (12 sq mi),[3] and houses approximately 100,000 people as of April 2019. The city initially planned to house 350,000 people by 2020, but, as of 2021, still aims to house that amount at some point in the future.

On April 25, 2007, then Senior Minister of Singapore Goh Chok Tong and former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met and discussed the idea of a planned city to aid with China's rapid urbanization and pursuit of sustainable development. On 18 November 2007, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Wen Jiabao signed a Framework Agreement for the development of the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city.[1][3] The aim of the agreement was to develop a planned city which was practical, replicable and scalable, and would be more environmentally conscious, particularly in regard to resource and energy conservation.[citation needed] The city would then serve as a model for sustainable development for other cities in China.[citation needed]

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. In 2008, the governments of Singapore and China laid out 26 key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the city's future ecological, economic, and social development. These initial 26 KPIs comprised 22 quantitative measures and 4 qualitative measures, and included guidelines for air quality, water quality, noise pollution, wetland and shoreline protection, urban greenspace, water consumption, modes of transportation, waste generation, local employment opportunities, and other areas. In 2018, the city's KPIs were updated and reformulated to span 30 quantitative measures and 6 qualitative measures. These revised KPIs lay out targets set for 2023, 2028, and 2035.

Third Singapore-China joint project to be based in Chongqing
Chinese President Xi Jinping, accompanied by President Tony Tan Keng Yam, inspects the guard-of-honour during the welcome ceremony at the Istana, Nov 6, 2015. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

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.

Singapore and China will sign an agreement on Saturday (Nov 7) to kickstart the project, which is a highlight of Mr Xi's two-day state visit to Singapore. The other two cities in contention for the project in western China were Chengdu and Xi'an. A city of 30 million, Chongqing is one of four municipalities under the direct control of China's central government. In proposals seen earlier this year, the south-western city has set aside an area of 20 sq km for the collaboration, with the Longsheng district of about 10 sq km designated the core area.

The initiatives planned for the project include an integrated logistics centre comprising an aviation and port logistics hub; a China-Singapore modern services demonstration zone where Singapore firms can provide legal and accounting services among others; and a smart city featuring a special administrative zone for cloud computing and big data sectors. Chinese Ambassador to Singapore Chen Xiaodong had said earlier that the project would have a positive effect on the Chinese government's plan to develop its vast western region.

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. TODAY understands that several agreements that set the framework for the new project will be announced today at a signing ceremony for several memoranda of understanding and agreements for Mr Xi’s first state visit to Singapore. The third G-to-G project, which TODAY understands will focus on “strategic connectivity”, was proposed by China in 2013.

In a joint statement by the Foreign, Trade and Industry and National Development ministries following last month’s 12th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) — the highest-level bilateral mechanism between Singapore and China — both countries had agreed that the third project would focus on four sectors of collaboration: Financial, aviation, logistics, and ICT. During the JCBC meeting, Beijing and Singapore agreed that the third G-to-G project should be in line with Mr Xi’s vision to make the project “a priority demonstrative project for China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, the Western Region Development and the Yangtze River Economic Belt strategies”, the statement said.

Third Singapore-China project to be based in Chongqing: Xi
SINGAPORE SOUVENIR: (from left) Madam Peng Liyuan, President Xi Jinping, President Tony Tan, Mrs Mary Tan and Pathlight School student Glenn Phua at the Istana on Friday. Glenn's painting of the Singapore Botanic Gardens was presented to the Chinese president

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 night.

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

Singapore and China will sign an agreement on Saturday to kick-start the project, which is a highlight of Mr Xi's two-day state visit to Singapore. The other two cities in contention for the project in western China were Chengdu and Xi'an.

Singapore-China Bilateral Projects

Countries need to “build bridges and not walls” in order to navigate the many shared challenges in a highly interconnected world, Minister-in-charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing said during his four-day visit to China, which ends on Wednesday (Sep 13). He called for closer international cooperation and urged nations to play their roles in upholding and shaping the global rules in order to collectively progress ahead. “We must work towards developing a multi-dimensional global cooperation system,” Mr Chan said on Tuesday during the opening ceremony of the Singapore-China Forum on Leadership in Beijing.

“(This is a) system that is anchored by the rules-based multilateral system, where all countries, big and small, play by the rules, have an interest to upkeep the rules and continuously refresh the rules for the new and emerging challenges.” Mr Chan, who is also Singapore’s Education Minister, added that the system needs to be backed by new structures and greater cross-border cooperation to strengthen the speed and effectiveness of global action to address transboundary challenges, including disease outbreaks and climate change. On the economic front, he said that resilience is best achieved through diversification and interdependence, urging a push for global integration through the strengthening of multilateralism and the upholding of an international rules-based order.

Projects between Singapore’s and China’s governments can be “refreshed” to spearhead new growth, evolving beyond local and regional levels to include international partnerships, Mr Chan said during the bilateral leadership forum. He said projects such as the Suzhou Industrial Park, the Tianjin Eco-city and the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative, have enabled both countries to support each other’s development through cooperation and knowledge exchange. “Looking ahead, these government-to-government projects can be refreshed to trail blaze new development models of high-quality growth and experiment innovative approaches of governance,” he said.