A new chapter for Singapore-Tianjin cooperation

Lian Maojun, Tianjin Municipal Party Committee Standing Committee member and Tinjian Binhai New Area Party Secretary

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The firm friendship between China and Singapore goes back a long way. As we mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries, I am honoured by the invitation of Mr Lee Yi Shyan, the Chairman of Business China, to contribute to the microsite commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the Establishment of Singapore-China Relations.

Over the past 30 years, there have been frequent high-level leadership exchanges between China and Singapore, as well as the rapid development of economic and trade cooperation. Both sides have also established an all-round cooperative partnership progressing with the times. General Secretary Xi Jinping has noted that China and Singapore are natural partners when it comes to developing the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Sino-Singapore cooperation can help to catalyse regional development, as well as the development of countries along the Belt and Road. To deepen the friendly exchanges between China and Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew had the foresight to initiate the creation of Business China, a platform that uses the Chinese language as a link for building a cultural and economic bridge between China and Singapore. Today, China has become Singapore’s largest trading partner, and Singapore is China's largest foreign investor . Both countries have reaped the rewards of this fruitful relationship.

Over the years, Tianjin and the Binhai New Area have established close ties with Singapore, and our cooperation has yielded remarkable results in many areas, including trade, education, tourism, and urban development. The Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City and the Singapore-Tianjin Economic and Trade Council have served as strong and effective vehicles and platforms for deepening our cooperation. The Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city, a flagship cooperation project between the governments of China and Singapore, was established to respond to climate change. Drawing from Singapore's forward-looking "Smart Nation", "Garden City", and "Zero-Waste City” development concepts, we set about creating a smart eco-city, embarking on environmental water management in what was a barren and fragile ecosystem. After over a decade of hard work by both China and Singapore, the city’s residents are now able to enjoy a wonderful environment. Enterprises here are flourishing, and tourism is booming. A beautiful new city has taken shape by the bay — it integrates ecology, technology and the port industry, and is conducive for both living and working. The Binhai New Area has been learning from the Eco-city’s experience of international cooperation and is implementing a two-prong development strategy of "Upgraded Eco-city " and "Smart City Innovation". In order to spur a new era of quality development for the Binhai New Area, we have embarked on deep and comprehensive cooperation with Singapore's Ministry of National Development in the areas of water management, environmental governance, scientific research and education, green transportation, and smart city solutions. Since its establishment in 2007, the Singapore-Tianjin Economic and Trade Council has held nine meetings, and it is an important communication channel and cooperation platform for Singapore and Tianjin. Well-known Singapore enterprises such as Keppel, CapitaLand and Yanlord are developing swiftly in Tianjin, where it is opening up international markets and making outstanding contributions to Tianjin’s urban development. Using the Singapore-Tianjin Economic and Trade Council as their platform, Tianjin enterprises are also setting up branches in Singapore and exploring the Southeast Asian market.

This is a pivotal window and period of strategic opportunities for the transformative development of Tianjin and the Binhai New Area, which occupy a prime intersection of the BRI, and stand to benefit from the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Integrated Development plan, the China (Tianjin) Pilot Free Trade Zone, and policy support at the national level for the quality development of the Binhai New Area. There is great potential here. Singapore is an important fulcrum for the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It has a close and complementary working relationship with Tianjin enterprises. We are natural partners. It is my sincere hope that we can work more broadly and deeply with our Singapore friends from diverse sectors, to our mutual benefit. In doing so, we will write a new chapter for Sino-Singapore friendship.