Deepening Sino-Singapore collaboration for a better future

Li Yaping, Mayor of Suzhou

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This year is the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Singapore and China. Singapore is renowned as a vibrant and beautiful Garden City, and is an important trading partner, as well as a source of investment for Suzhou. Singapore and Suzhou enjoy a longstanding relationship in industrial park development and other areas. We have reaped the fruits of our collaborations, through which many Singaporeans have become friends of Suzhou. In 2019, the trade between Suzhou and Singapore amounted to USD 5.5 billion, and added up to USD 4 billion over the first nine months of 2020.

As of the end of September 2020, Suzhou had over 950 operating enterprises from Singapore, and USD 9.5 billion in external investment from Singapore. Suzhou enterprises are also venturing out, and exploring business opportunities in Singapore. Suzhou has invested in 80 projects in Singapore, and committed investments amounting to USD 2.4 billion. On the world economic stage, Suzhou and Singapore enterprises have created a win-win scenario of cooperation and harmonious development.

Among the many collaborations between Suzhou and Singapore, the most high-profile project is Suzhou Industrial Park — the first flagship project undertaken by the Chinese and Singapore governments. The park marks its 26th anniversary this year, and it has experienced both challenges and triumphs. With keen support from the leaders of both countries, we cultivated a unique form of Sino-Singapore cooperation, led the charge for reform and opening up, and comprehensively deepened global economic and technical cooperation. As a result, we have achieved remarkable results and become a success story that exemplifies the friendly cooperation between China and Singapore.

The Suzhou Industrial Park numbers among China’s national-level economic and technological development zones, and was ranked first for four consecutive times in a comprehensive evaluation of these zones. The Suzhou Area of the China (Jiangsu) Pilot Free Trade Zone is located within Suzhou Industrial Park, and amounts to over half of the total size of this pilot free trade zone. The China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park Development Group Co – the master developer for the park and an embodiment of Sino-Singapore cooperation – was the first entity of its kind to be listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

We persist in learning from precedents. In the areas of urban planning, economic development, public administration and management, we developed 110 regulatory systems that align with international benchmarks as well as the Chinese context. This resulted in unique management systems and operational mechanisms. To keep up with modern developments, we have boosted our cooperation in the technology sector. Over the years, the National University of Singapore (Suzhou) Research Institute, the Nanyang Innovation Center, and the Singapore-China (Suzhou) Innovation Centre have made the park their home. Innovfest Suzhou was also convened for four consecutive years.

We are also exploring stronger financial cooperation. Reputable Singapore banks such as DBS Bank, OCBC Bank, and United Overseas Bank have established a presence in the park. Soochow Securities and the Bank of Suzhou have been granted permits to set up subsidiaries in Singapore. Pilot schemes for China-Singapore cross-border RMB financial services innovation have yielded significant results.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has often noted that openness brings progress, while self- seclusion leaves one lagging behind. China will not close its door to the world, and will only make it more open. As one of the major Chinese cities with an important role in the country’s opening up, Suzhou is known as “heaven on earth”. Its economy ranks sixth among mainland Chinese cities, and it provides an excellent environment for both living and entrepreneurship. In The Economist’s Global Liveability Index, Suzhou ranked first among mainland Chinese cities for four consecutive years.

We will remain steadfast in our open door policy and develop our strengths in areas such as transport connectivity, intermediary platforms, and real estate. We will continue to uphold the principle of equal benefits and sincere cooperation, and take the opportunity of the 30th anniversary of Sino-Singapore ties to deepen cooperation in the Belt and Road Initiative, technological innovation, the modern services industry, business-friendly operating environments, urban management, and people and cultural exchanges. In our role as the pioneering pathfinder and communicator for Sino-Singapore cooperation, we will work hard to ensure the success of our projects. In this way, we will be able to contribute to the all-round cooperative partnership between our two countries by adding more depth to this relationship as we aspire to greater heights.