Channel NewsAsia

S'pore and China exploring third joint project: DPM Teo

Singapore exploring a third government project with China is an expression of the country's confidence in and commitment to China's future, say Singapore leaders.

SINGAPORE: Singapore and China are exploring a third joint project, this time in western China, after already having two joint projects - an industrial park in Suzhou and an eco-city in Tianjin.

This was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, and Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing as they rounded off an official visit to China on Thursday (July 31).

They said Singapore exploring a third government project with China is an expression of the country's confidence in and commitment to China's future. 

"The western China region is an important region for China, because they want to balance the development between the coastal regions and the inner provinces of China. What particular areas we can work together on, this is something officials have been tasked to explore, it must be of importance to the central government, and which is also an area that Singapore can make a useful contribution to," said Mr Teo.

The location for the project has not been decided, but Singapore officials have recently visited Shanxi, Sichuan, Guangxi, and now, Chongqing. One of China's mega-cities, Chongqing is an industrial and commercial powerhouse in the west, with a population of over 30 million, and growing. Today, Singapore is the second largest foreign investor in this city.

Heading the city is Chongqing Communist Party chief Sun Zhengcai, whom Mr Teo met on the final day of his visit to China.

Media reports describe Mr Sun as a rising star, widely believed to become one of China's next generation of leaders who will take over from current President Xi Jinping and Premier Le Keqiang.

Mr Teo told reporters Mr Sun is familiar with Singapore, having visited the country on government exchange programmes and having worked on the Jilin Food Zone, a Temasek Holdings project in north-east China. "I think he's a very dynamic man, and he's very clear in his mind what he wants to achieve," Mr Chan added.

Going beyond commercial interests, Mr Chan hinted at a "higher order reason" for a third G-to-G project. "More importantly, this will give us a new platform, a new milestone for our bilateral relations. We understand one of China's priorities is to develop its western region. We hope to work on this together with China, to find a new business opportunity that will give our next generation of leaders a common platform to consolidate our bilateral relations," he said.

More details on the project could be expected later this year, when Mr Teo and his Chinese counterpart Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli meet again at the China-Singapore Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation, an important annual meeting for the two countries.

Mr Teo also commented on Singapore's possible role in the proposed China-led Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank, which featured in his discussion with Vice-Premier Zhang in Beijing on Monday (July 28).

"We agreed that the bank should have an inclusive membership, that the bank works together, hand-in-hand with other multilateral lending agencies, like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. And the bank will adopt good governance standards similar to those adopted by other multilateral lending agencies, principles which all member nations would want to see as well," he said.

Singapore and China will mark 25 years of relations in 2015. 

Tweet photos, videos and updates on this story to  @channelnewsasia