Making the high-quality development of the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity a new benchmark in Belt and Road international cooperation

Tang Liangzhi, Deputy Secretary of the Communist Party of China Chongqing Municipal Committee and Mayor of the Chongqing Municipal People's Government

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This year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Singapore and the People’s Republic of China, and the 5th anniversary of the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity (CCI). On behalf of the Communist Party of China Chongqing Municipal Committee and the Chongqing Municipal People's Government, I would like to express our sincere appreciation for Business China’s longstanding support of Chongqing’s development. We send our best wishes for the successful launch of this commemorative microsite.

China and Singapore enjoy a longstanding friendship. In November 2015, PRC President Xi Jinping and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong witnessed the agreement to launch the CCI in Chongqing, an initiative which both leaders envisioned would boost the long-term strategic development of and cooperation between both countries. Under their guidance, we have been steadfast in upholding high standards and tapping on innovation as we work together to deepen and elevate the possibilities of this collaboration.

Over the past five years, the CCI has made great progress through the high-level support from the leaders of both sides for its three-tier cooperation mechanism. President Xi and Prime Minister Lee have also provided valuable guidance to the project at important junctures. The Joint Steering Council, Joint Working Committee, and Joint Implementation Committee have worked seamlessly together to roll out measures and policies to support the development of capabilities building, data channels, multimodal logistics and other major projects, ensuring the substantive growth of the CCI.

During this time, Chongqing and Singapore have worked towards the common goal of expanding our cooperation both in breadth and in depth. The CCI-New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor (CCI-ILSTC), the China-Singapore (Chongqing) International Dedicated Connectivity (IDC), China-Singapore cross-border financing channels, the Reciprocal Green Lane air travel arrangement between Chongqing and Singapore, and personnel training initiatives and exchanges were successfully established. Major projects such as the China-Singapore (Chongqing) FinTech Cooperation Demonstration Zone, an aviation industrial park, the National University of Singapore Chongqing Research Institute, and Raffles Hospital Chongqing have been set up. This means our cooperation have expanded from the four pillars of financial services, aviation, transport & logistics, and information & communications technology, to other areas such as education, healthcare, culture and tourism.

Singapore and Chongqing extended help to each other during the sudden onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic since this year. We maintained an orderly air travel corridor, and kept regional supply chains stable. Together, we organized an online version of the Smart China Expo 2020 and the third CCI-Financial Summit, successfully facilitating the launch of various major projects. As of November 2020, the CCI had amassed 247 signed projects amounting to US$33.3 billion.

In the last five years, all stakeholders have strengthened the roles of Chongqing and Singapore as the two hubs of the CCI. With Chongqing as the nerve centre, 12 western China provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities as well as Hainan and Zhanjiang of Guangdong are developing the CCI-ILSTC. The CCI-Financial Summit has become a platform for international exchange and cooperation, and Sino-Singapore cross-border financing now extends to nine western Chinese provinces and autonomous regions, including Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Qinghai. This has helped to boost the region’s connectivity with ASEAN countries, creating a win-win situation.

These five years of hard work have created new milestones for the CCI. The financial cooperation between Chongqing and Singapore has grown. Our people-to-people and cultural exchanges also continue to grow, with significant results in connectivity and the platform effect. The point-to-point cooperation between Chongqing and Singapore is catalysing more connections between western China and ASEAN countries. The CCI is becoming a highlight of China-Singapore cooperation, and a benchmark for international cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Today, most countries continue to open-up and cooperate for mutually beneficial outcomes. On July 14, in a phone conversation with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, President Xi Jinping proposed to promote deeper cooperation for the BRI and leverage the CCI-ILSTC and third-party cooperation. The Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th Communist Party of China Central Committee noted that international cooperation could be boosted through broadening and deepening the process of opening up. On November 15, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s largest free trade agreement, was signed. These developments will provide new impetus for the CCI, and bring about a significant and positive impact on Singapore-China cooperation.

Chongqing is currently following the instructions of President Xi Jinping and the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th Communist Party of China Central Committee, building itself as a strategic anchor in the Large-scale Western Development, and as a point of connection between the BRI and the Yangtze River Economic Belt. By following the new development philosophy, Chongqing is building itself as a pioneer of opening-up in inland China and preserving a charming landscape of lush mountains and lucid rivers, to achieve high-quality development, create a high standard of living and boost the development of the Chengdu-Chongqing Economic Circle. More efforts will be made so that Chongqing will be a pillar in the Large-scale Western Development, a leader in Belt and Road Cooperation and a model of green development along the Yangtze River Economic Belt.

We always want those who are near and dear to us to do well. As we look forward to the future, we hope to work together to realise the consensus reached by the leaders of both countries, improve strategic synergy, capture opportunities that arise from the RCEP and the Chengdu-Chongqing Economic Circle, leverage the advantages of Chongqing and Singapore as the dual hubs of the CCI, elevate the CCI-ILSTC, open up BRI third-party market cooperation, and better connect western China with ASEAN nations. We hope to expand cooperation, focus on connectivity and the modern services economy, speed up landmark projects and showcase visible results. We also want to continue innovating in systems, policies, organisational mechanisms, and business models, and create replicable experiences that can be scaled. By working hard to find opportunities in development, and development in cooperation, we will create a better tomorrow together.