- POSTED: 15 Sep 2013 15:37
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Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong says Singapore has always been and will continue to be a strong supporter of China's development.
TIANJIN, CHINA: Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong says Singapore has always been and will continue to be a strong supporter of China's development.
He said the Tianjin Eco-city, which marks its 5th anniversary this year, is an example of mutually beneficial collaborations between the two countries.
Speaking at the China International Eco-City Forum and Expo held in Tianjin, Mr Goh noted the Tianjin Eco-city has been transformed from a barren land into a liveable environment.
He said: "Five years ago, when I came for the groundbreaking with Premier Wen Jiabao, there was nothing over here, just salt flats, marshes and a few people living out in the wilderness.
"About two years ago, when I came, this place was a huge construction site.
"This time, I come here, people are living in some of the apartments and many buildings are already functioning and I am very impressed by the scale and progress of the development of the Eco-city."
The Eco-city is also on track to become the first city in China to provide 100% potable water to residents and businesses directly from the tap.
Chinese and Singaporean officials and the private sector have also grown to understand one another well through the collaboration.
Mr Goh said that Tianjin Eco-city was an idea ahead of its time, well-positioned to support China's efforts to address environmental protection and sustainable development.
He added that Singapore hopes China will continue to find its experience and policies in some areas relevant, just as Singapore continues to learn from China.
Mr Goh said: "You still have to look at the strategy of the Eco-city. How this fits in with the overall development of a beautiful Tianjin and how would that fit in with the President's Chinese dream?
"If we can integrate that, then that's where our contribution will be - a sustainable Eco-city demonstration project that can be replicable elsewhere."
When asked about the possibility of a third government-to-government project between Singapore and China, Mr Goh said that it is for the Cabinet to decide.
In the Eco-city, the number of amenities, such as restaurants, shops and banks, is growing.
Singapore's National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said: "I have been here four times...each trip you see new stuff that they are experimenting and in certain aspects they are ahead of Singapore. And that really is the purpose of this joint venture cooperation, because for green buildings, low-carbon buildings, the whole world is still searching for greater innovation."
But the Eco-city now faces the challenge of getting enough residents to live there.
There are currently about 4,000 residents living in the Eco-city.
Mr Goh said: "Population, of course, I think is below what we expected. And that's primarily because of the national policy of China, which wanted to slow down the purchase of buildings and the building of more housing and so on.
"There was an oversupply, so Tianjin Eco-city had to comply with the national policy. But that's all right, I think we will catch up in time."
Improving transportation links between Tianjin and other parts of China will also help in its development.
Moving forward, the Eco-city will focus more on "software" such as piloting social management policies to create a socially harmonious community.
To realise its vision of becoming a thought-leader in the field of eco-development, it will also be essential to bring in more green companies as well as put more resources into R&D.
Mr Goh, who first raised the idea of Tianjin Eco-city, described it as his baby.
He said: "As I was joking with them, I hope to be a grandfather of this place. By that I meant this place will succeed and the knowledge over here will be replicated elsewhere. I hope to see a second generation of the Eco-city."