27 years and counting: Suzhou Industrial Park goes from strength to strength
The China-Singapore cooperative project looks to the future by enabling innovation in emerging, high-end industries.
A joint venture between the governments of China and Singapore, Suzhou Industrial Park has over the last two decades honed its reputation as a modern, open development zone and a model of international cooperation.
Once a low-lying field at the outskirt of Suzhou, the completed park was the culmination of top-level design that was intended to drive innovation and reform in China. Spanning 278 sq km, the park houses a China-Singapore cooperation area and is home to 1.13 million residents. The China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park Development – the master developer and cooperation carrier for the park – was successfully listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange in 2019.
Today, Suzhou Industrial Park is known for its high degree of openness – one that is prime for fostering innovation. In the next stage of its evolution, the park is poised to be a hub for emerging industries such as biomedicine, nanotechnology applications and artificial intelligence (AI), as well as for high-end equipment manufacturing and modern services.
Central to its development moving forward is the ‘One Zone and Two Centers’ concept that sees the establishment of the National Biotechnology Innovation Centre, the National Third-generation Semiconductor Technology Innovation Centre and the National Pilot for Innovation and Development of New Generation Artificial Intelligence.
IN PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE
Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Suzhou Industrial Park still managed to reach new milestones, with the total output value of its industries exceeding 500 billion yuan (S$105.437 billion) in 2020. The output value of high-tech enterprises accounted for 72.4 per cent of the total large-scale industrial output, while high-tech industries such as biomedicine, nanotechnology applications and AI accounted for 63.5 per cent in 2020.
This year, the number of high-tech enterprises at Suzhou Industrial Park will reach 2,000 – giving the park a firm foundation from which it can reach new heights in innovation. For starters, the Suzhou biomedicine industry is already at the forefront of innovation capabilities and quality development in China. In addition, half of the top 10 semiconductor microelectromechanical systems companies in China maintain a presence in the park, which has also been hailed as one of the eight most representative regions in the world for micro-nano manufacturing.
Within China, Jiangsu province – the home of Suzhou Industrial Park – ranks second highest in its furthering of the digital economy, which exceeded four trillion yuan and accounted for over 40 per cent of the province’s gross domestic product. The growth of the digital economy has been further accelerated by the pandemic, and has transformed traditional industries and improved service capabilities in the province.
Mr Shen Mi, member of the Standing Committee of Suzhou Municipal Committee and party secretary of CPC Suzhou Industrial Park Working Committee, said: “To accelerate the construction of a world-class high-tech zone, we must focus on innovation and technological self-reliance, benchmark ourselves to advanced zones both domestically and internationally, and create an open and cooperative highland powered by technological, industrial and international institutional innovation.”
THE SINGAPORE CONNECTION
Jiangsu has long had close economic and trade ties with Singapore. Last year, the total import and export volume of goods traded between Jiangsu and Singapore stood at US$14.27 billion (S$19.364 billion) – a 6.1 per cent year-on-year increase, accounting for 16 per cent of the total trade of goods between China and Singapore.
To date, Singapore has accumulated close to 3,700 investment projects in Jiangsu and has invested US$26.66 billion. In turn, Jiangsu has invested in 290 Singapore projects, with a contractual investment amount of US$3.46 billion.
Mr Hui Jianlin, member of the Standing Committee of Jiangsu Provincial Committee, said: “We will implement the consensus reached by the leaders of China and Singapore to further strengthen cooperation amid the pandemic, deepen the joint construction of the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative and the construction of new land-sea corridors, as well as reach a new level of cooperation in digital economy advancement.”
In his speech, Mr Hui also noted that China has formally applied to join the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement, which Singapore is a partner of: “This reflects China’s clear stance and firm determination to participate actively in international cooperation in the digital economy, match international high-level rules and standards, and continue opening up.”
Ms Liu Hua, vice chairman of Suzhou Industrial Park Administrative Committee, expressed her desire for Suzhou Industrial Park to continue to deepen China-Singapore cooperation with the establishment of the Singapore International Business Cooperation Centre, which was unveiled in February 2021.
Located at one-north, the centre is intended to be an outpost for China-Singapore two-way investment, and to provide a raft of professional services such as business consultation, incubator cultivation, market development and financing for China-Singapore enterprises. Wholly owned by Jurong Town Corporation and operated by CSSD International Business Cooperation Centre, its development of pro-business strategies is guided by Suzhou Industrial Park Administrative Committee.
A LONG COOPERATION GROWS CLOSER
Suzhou Industrial Park has long adapted learnings from Singapore to fit Suzhou’s needs while continually seeking to refine its practices in order to stay competitive. According to global consultants KPMG, Suzhou Industrial Park has risen to 25th position globally in a ranking of business environments, with enterprises found to be most satisfied with the park’s legal environment, property protection and policies.
Said Mr Shen: “The park has always been part of the overall cooperation and effort between China and Singapore to jointly explore third-party markets, create an internationalised corridor and build two-way open platforms in the form of Singapore Suzhou Business Centre and Suzhou Singapore Centre. All of this works to deepen the practical cooperation between China and Singapore in the fields of cross-border investment, service trade, financial and technological innovation, and digital government construction.”
Looking ahead to the 30th anniversary of Suzhou Industrial Park in 2024, the local Suzhou government plans to establish a first-class pilot free trade zone that aims to emulate Singapore’s experience as a free trade port.
Mr Shen added: “Suzhou Industrial Park will quicken its pace to build a world-class high-tech park and pilot free trade zone, and a new future-oriented centre of Suzhou.”
Learn more about Suzhou Industrial Park.