GUANGZHOU - Going up the developmental ladder is like climbing Mount Everest and economic powerhouse Guangdong needs trained mountaineers to scale greater heights, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said as he met the southern province's party chief Hu Chunhua on Wednesday.
Singapore, which is slightly ahead in the trek towards the peak, can partner Guangdong by tailoring training for its officials, Mr Goh told Mr Hu, a high-flier touted to be China's future top leader.
It was the second meeting between the two men, who first met in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, in 2011 when Mr Hu was the party boss of the autonomous region.
Mr Hu and Chongqing party boss Sun Zhengcai, both 50, are the youngest to be promoted to the Communist Party's 25-member Politburo last November and are front runners to succeed President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, possibly in 2022.
Agreeing with Mr Goh's analogy, Mr Hu said upgrading Guangdong's economy would be an arduous trek.
The manufacturing hub is seeking to move up the value chain with higher-skilled industries.
"Economic transformation is not just one or two days, or one or two years, but a process that takes time," he said.
Mr Hu said the Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City, a private sector-led bilateral project aiming to attract high-value businesses, can be a development model for the province.
Guangdong can also learn from Singapore's good experiences in social management, he noted, adding that China has been sending officials to the Republic for training and will continue to do so.
Mr Hu, who took over from Vice-Premier Wang Yang as Guangdong's top official last December, said it was not easy to make sure people live happy and settled lives, given that the province is China's most populous with 106 million people. About 20 million are migrants.
The challenge for Guangdong, as for other migrant magnets such as Beijing and Shanghai, is in providing better housing, medical care and other kinds of social services for these newcomers.