Monday, 16 November 2015

Singapore China G-to-G Projects

Third Singapore-China project to be based in Chongqing
Chinese President Xi Jinping giving a speech at the state banquet held in his honour at the Istana on Nov 6, 2015.ST PHOTO: KOR KIAN BENG

The third Singapore-China government-led project will be based in Chongqing, Chinese President Xi Jinping said at a state banquet at the Istana on Friday (Nov 6).

"During my visit, the two sides will officially launch the third project based in Chongqing," Mr Xi said.

The bilateral project will be on the theme of "modern connectivity and modern services", and could help lower the cost of doing business in China's western region.

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Third Singapore-China govt-to-govt project to be in Chongqing
President Xi Jinping giving a speech at the state banquet held in his honour at the Istana (Photo: Jason Quah, TODAY)

President Xi announced that the third Singapore-China government-to-government project will be in the Chinese city of Chongqing. Officials had earlier said the project will focus on modern connectivity and modern services, but had not announced the location. Singapore and China already have joint projects in Suzhou Industrial Park and Tianjin Eco-city and Mr Xi said both are progressing well.

"China-Singapore ties have reached a new level of development," Mr Xi declared. "With the establishment of an all-round partnership that keeps pace with times, China will work with Singapore to seize the momentum in our political trust and deepen practical cooperation on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit and strengthen the coordination and collaboration on international and global issues."

On Saturday, the Chinese President is also expected to witness the signing of several Memoranda of Understanding with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and will deliver a lecture at the National University of Singapore.

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Chongqing picked for 3rd govt-to-govt project
Chongqing in south-western China, with a population of 33 million people, is one of the largest cities in the world

Yesterday, Chongqing Municipality was announced as the site of the third government-to-government project between Singapore and China, beating two other sites - Chengdu, capital of south-western Sichuan province, and Xi'an, capital of north-western Shaanxi province.

During their meeting yesterday, Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed on Chongqing as the site for the third government- to-government project.

The Chongqing project follows in the footsteps of the 1994 Suzhou Industrial Park and the 2008 Tianjin Eco-City.

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Third G-to-G project to be in Chongqing
Mr Xi and his wife Madam Peng waving upon arriving in Singapore on Nov 6, 2015. Mr Xi is on his first state visit here. Photo: Wee Teck Hian

A third urban mega project between Singapore and China will be launched in the western Chinese city of Chongqing, announced Chinese President Xi Jinping during a state banquet at the Istana yesterday (Nov 7).

“During my visit, our two sides will officially launch the third Government-to-Government (G-to-G) project based in the Chinese city of Chongqing,” Mr Xi said, lauding the “good progress” made by the existing G-to-G projects of Suzhou Industrial Park set up in 1994, and Tianjin Eco City in 2008.

“All these tangible results of cooperation speak volumes about the fresh vigour and vitality of our cooperation,” he added.

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Suzhou and Tianjin joint projects
Suzhou Industrial Park. PHOTO: ST FILE

Tianjin Eco-City. PHOTO: KEPPEL

There are two state-led projects. The Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP), launched in 1994, was the flagship government-level project. The park, based on Singapore's Jurong industrial estates, was built to attract foreign investors into Suzhou. It suffered losses in the initial years as Suzhou officials promoted a rival industrial park owned by the municipal government. Singapore cut its stake in the SIP from 65 per cent to 35 per cent in 2001, and it began making money that same year.

The second joint venture was the Tianjin Eco-City, which broke ground in 2008. The project, started to create a sustainable model for urban living, was home to some 30,000 residents as of August 2015. It suffered superficial damage to its buildings during deadly explosions at a chemical warehouse 16km away in August.

Xi's visit on Friday may see Singapore and China announce a third government-to-government project in western China.

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Tianjin Eco-City in 2008

The Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city’s vision is to be a thriving city which is socially harmonious, environmentally-friendly and resource-efficient.

It is a flagship cooperation project between the governments of Singapore and China.

It is planned for 350,000 residents.

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'Reasonable progress' at Tianjin Eco-city: Developer
The Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city Development. (Photo: Jeremy Koh)

The Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city development has made "reasonable progress" since it began seven years ago, said the CEO of its master developer. This is even though it has attracted just 20,000 residents - a fraction of the 350,000 projected to move in by the early to mid-2020s.

"Last year in the Eco-city, we sold more than 4,000 homes. That's more than half the total number of homes sold in Singapore last year; and we account for around 20 percent of the whole Tianjin Binhai New Area market,” said Mr Ho Tong Yen, CEO of Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Investment and Development Co. “So I would say it is a reasonable rate of progress for this project, taking into account the broader environment."

One of the residents is Singaporean Alex Tan, who works at Tianjin Eco-city. He has been based in Tianjin for the past five years. About a year ago, he decided to plonk down about US$190,000 for a three-bedroom apartment there. "Family time is very important. So immediately after work, I can just reach home in the shortest possible time, especially in this time during the spring, summer season when I get off work. When I come back, I can just bring the kids down to the playground or maybe take a stroll in the nearby Eco-valley," he explained.

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Overview of the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city project
Initiated in 2007, the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city is a bilateral, national-level cooperation project aimed at becoming a model for sustainable cities. It is the second flagship Government-to-Government project between Singapore and China after Suzhou Industrial Park.

As one of the key functional zones in the Tianjin Binhai New Area (TBNA), the development of the Eco-city will not only benefit its participants, but also contribute to the economic growth of the entire TBNA. It is being developed by the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city Investment and Development Company Ltd (SSTEC) which the Singapore Consortium (led by Keppel Corporation) and the Chinese Consortium (led by Tianjin TEDA Investment holdings) both have 50% equity in.

Under the project, a greenfield township of over 30 square kilometres will be developed over 10 to 15 years. The Eco-city’s basic infrastructure is complete and the first batch of residents moved into the city in early 2012. The SSTEC is planned for a population of 350,000. To cater to the community, the Eco-city is planning to set up schools, hospitals and retail malls. This opens up a myriad of opportunities for local companies looking to showcase their eco-solutions, collaborate in environmental services and other downstream areas like retail and education services.

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China's 'eco-cities': empty of hospitals, shopping centres and people
Residential buildings under construction in the £24bn Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city, 90 miles south-east of Beijing. Photograph: Bloomberg via Getty Images

Wang Lin needed a change. The crushing air pollution and gridlock traffic in his hometown Hangu, an industrial district in China’s northern metropolis of Tianjin, made him anxious and sometimes sick.

Then he heard about the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city. According to its marketing, the £24bn development – a joint venture between the governments of China and Singapore – will one day be a “model for sustainable development” only 40km from Tianjin’s city centre and 150km from central Beijing. To Wang, it sounded like paradise.

Last year, the 36-year-old moved into an inexpensive flat in one of the city’s half-occupied apartment blocks. As a freelance translator, he doesn’t mind that most viable employers are at least half an hour away by car. He loves the relatively clean air and the personal space. But he also has his complaints.

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Tianjin Eco-City rattled, but not for long
Home sales and inquiries in Tianjin Eco-City have returned to normal levels since the Aug 12 explosions, said Mr Liew Choon Boon, chief executive of SSTEC Investment and Development.PHOTO: TIANJIN ECO-CITY

Deadly explosions at a chemical warehouse in the northern port city of Tianjin earlier this month left behind a devastated industrial landscape and a murky tale of political malfeasance and corruption at the top.

The blasts, which killed 150 people, have also rattled a joint project between the Singapore and Chinese governments, 16km away.

The Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City (SSTEC) escaped with only superficial damage to its buildings but observers say collateral fallout could be greater, at least in the short term.

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Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Investment and Development Co., Ltd. now established

Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Investment and Development Co., Ltd. (SSTEC) marked its incorporation today. SSTEC has launched its new identity, the “Seed of the Future”, in a ceremony held in Tianjin. Projecting strong aspirations for a growing and glowing future, SSTEC’s new logo takes on a unique seed-like shape in bold red and orange hues. The seed, synonymous with life, is an apt symbol for the ecologically-balanced and sustainable way of living that SSTEC will create for its residents in the Tianjin Eco-City.

With an estimated total investment of RMB 2 billion when it is fully completed in the next five to six years, the Eco-Business Park is expected to be the foundation for global eco-businesses in Tianjin’s Binhai new area and Bohai’s rim. This is to serve Northern China’s growing need for clean technologies and sustainable urban solutions.

As the first of its kind in China, the Eco-Business Park will occupy approximately 30 hectares of land in the Tianjin Eco-City’s “Start-Up Area” and create a 24/7 vibrant and self-sustaining business community. Capitalising on the strategic positioning of the Eco-City, it will attract global clean technology and green R&D companies, as well as high value-added services such as business process outsourcing (BPO) companies which have low carbon footprint. When fully completed, the Eco-Business Park is expected to create over 15,000 professional jobs which will attract new residents and generate more economic spin-offs.

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Milestones of the SSTEC
  • November 2007: Singapore and China jointly decided to select Tianjin as the location for an eco-city. An agreement was inked between Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and then-Premier Wen Jiabao.
  • September 2008: Singapore and China broke ground for the joint project, their second after the Suzhou Industrial Park, aiming to make it a model of sustainable development.
  • February 2012: The first batch of residents moved into the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City (SSTEC).
  • September 2012: The first school started classes in the eco-city.
  • March 2013: The SSTEC was named the first National Green Development Demonstration Zone by China State Council.
  • September 2013: Some 1,000 firms were registered.
  • June 2014: The number of residents in the eco-city crossed the 10,000 mark.
  • July 2014: Companies in the eco-city can take yuan loans from banks in Singapore, among a range of other cross-border yuan transactions, as both countries stepped up financial cooperation.
  • August 2015: The number of residents reached 30,000 with 2,300 companies registered.
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Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city

The Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city (SSTEC, simplified Chinese: 中新天津生态城; traditional Chinese: 中新天津生態城; pinyin: Zhōng-Xīn Tiānjīn Shēngtài Chéng) is the result of a collaborative agreement between the governments of China and Singapore to jointly develop a socially harmonious, environmentally friendly and resource-conserving city in China.

Designed to be practical, replicable and scalable, the Tianjin Eco-city will demonstrate the determination of both countries in tackling environmental protection, resource and energy conservation, and sustainable development, and serve as a model for sustainable development for other cities in China.

The Singaporean government formed a Ministerial Committee in 2011 in order to improve the coordination and support among its agencies for the project – reportedly a sign of the importance of the project to Singapore.

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“This project will fail,” said Goh Keng Swee

The China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) project in the 1990s between the two countries was fraught with problems from the get-go. But few have spoken openly about them until now.

In the book, “Neither Civil Nor Servant”, former chairman of the Economic Development Board (EDB),  Philip Yeo, shares why the project ran into so many issues that the majority ownership of the project was subsequently transferred from Singapore to China.

Mr Yeo, known for his shoot-from-the-hip bluntness which is matched only by that of the late former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, opens up in the book by Peh Shing Huei, former China bureau chief at the Straits Times.

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Suzhou Industrial Park in 1994

Investments in Suzhou & Tianjin based on gut feelings, no feasibility studies. TEMASEK Holdings took over Keppel Corp's stake in the 'knowledge city' project in Guangdong because it could take a longer view while public company shareholders are impatient for immediate returns, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said yesterday.

Speaking in Shanghai at the end of a three-day working visit, Mr Goh said the project could be the first of a 'new model' of China-Singapore collaborations, which would be led by private companies like Temasek.

Both countries' governments have worked together on previous large-scale industrial and development projects in Suzhou and Tianjin, but the new 'knowledge city' in Guangzhou city, in Guangdong province, will be led by the private sector instead.

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Bai Guizhi, former CEO of Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) has come under probe for graft. This is the first serious scandal to hit the Singapore China joint venture project. Bai resigned his post as CEO days after he came under investigation. He was appointed CEO of China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park Development Group (CSSD) less than three months ago. CSSD is a Singapore-China joint venture set up during the time of former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and the Chinese strong man Deng Xioping. It was announced that the current investigations have nothing to do with his work in SIP. The current investigations relate to his previous work in Jiangsu province where several officers were caught involving graft. It appears that Bai was implicated in the investigation of Feng Yajun , formerly a member of the standing committee of the Nanjing party committee.

Mr. Bai was previously chairman and general manager of the Suzhou Industrial Park Neighborhood Centre Development (SIPNC). This is a community club. In October 2012, Mr Bai signed on behalf the SIPNC to a joint venture with Guangzhou Zhicheng Real Estate Investment to build neighborhood centers in the Guangzhou Knowledge City, a private sector project between Singapore and China.

Current Chairman of CSSD will take over the role of CEO. He was previously the CEO of CSSD until he was succeeded by Bai. The previous CEO’s of CSSD from 1994 to 2000 were Singaporeans, when Singapore consortium had majority investment of 65% in SIP. Since then Singapore has reduced its investment to 28% in the loss making SIP. The teething problems came up because the local politicians promoted rival and precursor industrial park SND (Suzhou New District),

related: Ex-CEO of Suzhou park in graft probe

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China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park

The China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) project was launched in 1994 to develop a model industrial township within the city of Suzhou in China’s Jiangsu province. The first flagship joint project between the two governments, a key feature of the SIP involves the transfer of Singapore’s “software” – industrial development model and public-administration experience – to China. At the time, China was keen to study Singapore’s development model, while Singapore saw China as an important market for the country’s regionalisation drive. Both governments believed that the SIP, developed and managed based on Singapore’s approach, would be attractive for foreign direct investments. Profitable since 2001, the Singapore–China cooperation zone currently spans an area of 80 sq km. Besides industrial developments, the integrated township also encompasses residential areas, commercial and recreational facilities, as well as educational institutions.

Background - The origin of the SIP project can be traced to former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, who mentioned during his tour of southern China in February 1992 that the country could learn from Singapore in the areas of economic and social development. In Singapore, then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew saw China’s interest in the city-state as an opportunity that could benefit both countries. During a visit to China between September and October 1992, Lee expressed intent for a bilateral project through which Singapore would share its experience. On 18 December 1992, an agreement to confirm the mutual interest to develop an industry township in Suzhou was signed between the Singapore Labour Foundation (SLF) International and the Suzhou government. Thereafter, Lee sent a proposal for cooperation to China’s then vice-premier Zhu Rongji, which entailed a government-to-government transfer of Singapore’s knowhow in the development of an industrial township in Suzhou. Specifically, a 70-square-kilometre parcel of land in the east of Suzhou was selected for the proposed project.

Singapore decided to develop the industrial township in Suzhou for several reasons: its market was not yet saturated, there was not much industrial activity, and for the city’s advantageous geographical location. In addition, Jiangsu’s governor had expressed keen interest towards having Suzhou collaborate with Singapore. Suzhou’s mayor also reported that Deng Pufang, Deng Xiaoping’s son, supported the project, which implied endorsement from the Chinese central government.

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Singapore Industrial Park Flounders : A Deal Sours in China

It seemed like a fine idea when Singapore agreed with China in 1994 to build a giant $30 billion industrial park in the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou to serve as a model for attracting foreign investment to the world's most populous nation.

Five years later, the venture is heavily in debt — undermined by local officials who set up a rival park close by, forcing Singapore to cut its interests in the original project, Singapore officials say.

Singapore's senior minister, Lee Kuan Yew — who played a leading role in the effort to replicate the island-state's capitalist-style efficiency in the industrial heartland of China — conceded this week that the project had not turned out as planned and had made him more cautious about investments in China.

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UOB (China) Suzhou Branch Opens for Business

United Overseas Bank (China) Limited (UOB (China)) opened its 17th branch in Suzhou on November 5 in Suzhou Industrial Park. The newly opened Suzhou Branch aims to avail itself of the new experiment in financial innovation in Suzhou to provide cross-border RMB financing solutions for trade between China and Southeast Asian regions and to support the growing cross-border trade volume of Jiangsu Province.

The Singapore-headquartered UOB was incorporated in 1935 as a leading banking corporation in Asia with a network of over 500 offices spanning 19 countries and regions in Asia-Pacific, West Europe, and North America.

As a leading banking institution of the world, UOB has accumulated rich experience and expertise in cross-border financing, which will stand the newly established Suzhou Branch in good stead in offering services and products to Suzhou and other cities of Jiangsu in cross-border financing and the two-way capital pool solutions.

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Suzhou Industrial Park: 10 things to know about the China-Singapore project
Aerial view of Suzhou Industrial Park in China. -- PHOTO: CSSIPDC

The China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) celebrates its 20th anniversary in October. Here are 10 things to know about the project:

Origins - The SIP began in 1994 as a bilateral project for Singapore to share industrialisation experiences with China and was backed by former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and late Chinese strongman Deng Xiaoping.

Location - Suzhou was picked because of its proximity to the Shanghai financial hub and its educated, skilled talent pool.

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China–Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park
West Bank of Jin Ji Lake in Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP)

The China–Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park (simplified Chinese: 中国—新加坡苏州工业园区; traditional Chinese: 中國—新加坡蘇州工業園區; pinyin: Zhōngguó—Xīnjiāpō Sūzhōu Gōngyè Yuán Qū), or Suzhou Industrial Park for short, abbreviated as SIP, is a county-level administrative area located in Suzhou, China with significant Singaporean influence.

As China's modernisation drive gained momentum in the late 1980s, many Chinese delegations visited Singapore, a southeast Asian nation that achieved notable economic success within 30 years of independence. The Chinese visitors were eager to learn modern management methods, while Singapore was also planning Economic Regionalisation, which focused on overseas investment. In 1992, the idea of developing a modern industrial township with Singapore experience was broached. During his tour of southern China that year, China's late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping said: "Singapore enjoys good social order and is well managed. We should tap on their experience, and learn how to manage better than them."

After rounds of discussions and site surveys, both governments decided to join hands in developing a modern industrial park in the east of Suzhou. The China–Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park (CS-SIP) was thus born on February 26, 1994 when Chinese Vice Premier Li Lanqing and Singapore Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew signed the Agreement on the Joint Development of Suzhou Industrial Park in Suzhou.

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Suzhou Park saga

The new frontier
Two new sections added to Suzhou Industrial ParkInnocents abroad

Singapore plunge on Suzhou investment scary to China
China must change, warns Lee Kuan Yew
Losses in Singapore Suzhou project to hit US$90 million
S'pore to transfer ownership of Suzhou Park to China
Singapore sees no immediate profit from Suzhou project

Rival Suzhou park developers team up
Suzhou projecy: wounded pride
Suzhou: Sino-Singapore bid fails test
Singapore drops control of Suzhou Park
The Suzhou fig leaf
Irked Singapore may scale down industrial park near Shanghai
Builder of Suzhou mega-project seeks loan grace period
Spore govt loses patience with Suzhou Park
China "shenanigans"
Parliament queries Suzhou $115 million investment
The trouble with Singapore's clone

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Singapore-China ties: 7 things to know about 25 years of diplomatic relations
Chinese President Mr Xi Jinping (left) with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in 2010.PHOTO: ZAOBAO

Singapore and China mark 25 years of diplomatic relations this year.

On Friday (Nov 6), President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan will make their first state visit to Singapore. In many ways, the ties between Singapore, a city-state of 5.5 million, and China, a behemoth with 1.4 billion people, have been unique.

Here are seven things about the two countries' relationship.
  • BACK IN THE 1970S

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