CHONGQING, China: Singapore and China's joint project on boosting regional connectivity in the southwestern city of Chongqing, called the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI), can serve as a pathfinder for the mainland, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing on Saturday (April 16).
Speaking on the sidelines of a CCI seminar held in the municipality, Mr Chan said the project can, for instance, experiment with new policies on lowering financing and logistics costs which can then be expanded across China.
He said the CCI, which was launched last November, has made good progress, with both sides arriving at a shared understanding of the definition of success for the project.
With the project also providing a useful platform to share ideas amongst companies from both countries, the next step is for these companies to enter into business ventures with each other, added Mr Chan.
"On the financial side, since the rollout of the new policies, we've had quite good progress in terms of the volume of trade - the RMB-Singapore trade, so that number has continued to grow and we're quite happy with what we've achieved so far,” he said. “But now we're trying to encourage the Chinese side to invest some of their funds beyond China using Singapore as a platform. That's something we're working on.”
Mr Chan added that on the aviation side, Singapore's Changi Airports International and their Chinese counterparts will explore ways to work together on retail management at the Chongqing Airport. As for logistics, he said the team is also working on a masterplan to link up the airport, river port and rail network in Chongqing. This is to create a seamless network for companies to have different options to transport their goods around the world.
The minister also used an analogy referring to China as a panda and Singapore and Chongqing as squirrels to describe how the project can act as a testbed of ideas for the mainland.
"We understand that for a big panda to move, it can be a bit slower and more cautious. So how can you have a pathfinder for the big panda? That's where the squirrel comes in. For both Singapore and Chongqing, we can be the two little squirrels who are the pathfinders for the larger panda. If the central government in China allows the two squirrels to run a bit faster and experiment with new policies, then we can feedback the terrain forward to the panda and allow the panda to have a smoother and faster ride,” said Mr Chan.
“WIN-WIN” FOR BOTH
Mr Chan is on a two-day visit to Chongqing with 29 Singapore companies - the largest business delegation to arrive in the municipality since the project was launched six months ago.
"Chongqing is probably like what China's coastal cities were like 10, 20 years ago, so the volume may be small now, but its growth prospects are rather good,” said Mr Seah Kian Wee, the Managing Director of UOB Venture Management.
Added Mr Tang Zongwei, Deputy Secretary for the Communist Party of China (CPC) Working Committee of Chongqing Liangjiang New Area: "It's a win-win situation for both sides. Although Singapore is a small country, it has a big market and its a place where huge resources gather.
“China is a big market, and Chongqing is a major city for China's goals to develop the inland and western regions, so with this project, resources and the market, experience and new ideas can effectively gather together."
The Chongqing initiative is the third Government-to-Government level project between Singapore and China, with the other two joint initiatives in Suzhou Industrial Park and Tianjin Eco-city.