SINGAPORE: Singapore views China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative positively and sees many opportunities for the two nations to collaborate on the massive project, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in an interview with Xinhuanet ahead of an official visit to China.
Mr Lee will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang on a three-day visit to China starting Tuesday (Sep 19 to 21).
In the interview with the Chinese press agency published on Monday, Mr Lee spoke of the benefits the OBOR initiative will bring to other countries.
As China develops, its international influence is growing and how the country can integrate into the global community is an important issue, he said.
OBOR is a way for China to actively connect with its neighbours and economic partners, strengthen co-operation, and reap mutual benefits from better infrastructure, trade and tourism, said Mr Lee.
"The Initiative will help foster closer cooperation among China and its neighbouring countries as well as its trade partners in Europe, Asia and even Africa," he added.
Mr Lee also highlighted how Singapore has signed a memorandum of understanding with China to collaborate on a few areas with regard to the OBOR initiative.
He said Chinese companies investing in OBOR can leverage Singapore as a financial centre, a transport hub or make use of the country’s trade and services facilities.
COOPERATION TO MOVE WITH TIMES
Cooperation between Singapore and China must advance with the times, to meet China's fast-changing needs as it develops, Mr Lee said.
"Because China is developing very quickly. At every stage, its needs are different. And so, the focus of our cooperation has to adjust accordingly," he stated.
He cited two earlier bilateral projects - the Suzhou Industrial Park, which focused on attracting investment, and the Tianjin Eco-City, which emphasised sustainable development.
The latest project in Chongqing is about interconnectivity and modern services, including finance, banking and logistics.
"The China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity is the latest project. Of course, it's still in its early stage, but we hope it will have a 'demonstrative effect' on the opening up of western China."
CHINA'S RAPID DEVELOPMENT
Mr Lee was also asked about his call to Singaporeans to emulate China's widespread adoption of mobile payments technology. "I want to encourage Singaporeans to learn from your experiences. We should be able to do this too," he said.
When asked about the upcoming Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project, he said that he welcomes Chinese companies to bid for the project.
Mr Lee said he has taken the high-speed rail in China twice and that the rides were convenient, smooth and comfortable.
The Prime Minister also said that as ASEAN chair next year, Singapore will do its best to improve ties between China and ASEAN.
Mr Lee added that China has progressed significantly over the last 30 years.
"Chinese companies - telecommunications and technology companies - are some of the best internationally. Taobao, WeChat, Huawei - not only are they large companies, but they're also very technologically advanced," he said.
"In the next five to 10 years, there will definitely be challenges. China is a very big and complicated country, it's not easy to govern. But with courage and unity, China will certainly overcome all difficulties, and continue to develop and move forward."