S'pore is China's urban growth 'mirror'

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S'pore is China's urban growth 'mirror'
National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan (left) with Chinese Vice-President Li Yuanchao at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Mr Li said China placed great importance on ties with Singapore.

BEIJING - Singapore serves as a "mirror" for China in its urbanisation push, just as it did in the Asian giant's previous stage of industrialisation, Chinese Vice-President Li Yuanchao told visiting National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan yesterday.

By studying Singapore's experience, China "could get a preview of future problems it might face and draw ideas for possible solutions", said Mr Li, according to the National Development Ministry in a statement.

After decades of economic growth through industrialisation that saw it become the world's factory, China is poised to begin its next stage of development based on increasing domestic consumption and urbanisation.

This was Mr Li's first meeting with a Singapore leader since taking up his post in March last year, although he is no stranger to the Republic. He visited Singapore and met Singapore leaders in his past roles as the Communist Party organisation czar and Jiangsu province party chief.

Mr Khaw called on Mr Li with a seven- member delegation yesterday morning, a day after attending a meeting of the joint working committee of the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City.

His delegation included Senior Minister of State for National Development Lee Yi Shyan, People's Action Party MP Alex Yam and Singapore's Ambassador to China Stanley Loh.

Mr Khaw told Mr Li that the Tianjin Eco-City could serve as a model of sustainable urban development for other Chinese cities.

The 30 sq km environmentally friendly town is the second Sino-Singapore bilateral land development in China.

Mr Li is well acquainted with the first, the Suzhou Industrial Park, as it is located in Jiangsu.

When he was province party secretary from 2002 to 2007, Mr Li worked closely with Singapore leaders and officials on the project.

The Suzhou park celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, and Mr Khaw thanked Mr Li yesterday for his past contributions to the success of the joint venture, said the ministry statement.

Mr Khaw expressed Singapore's concern for Chinese passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 and their worried families, and pledged the Republic's continued support in the ongoing multinational search efforts.

Mr Li, a strong contender for the apex Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party in 2017, told Mr Khaw that China placed great importance on ties with Singapore.

He urged both countries to work more closely to build an upgraded version of the China-ASEAN free trade area, and a "maritime silk road" trade route through South-east Asia, as espoused by President Xi Jinping, said the Xinhua news agency.

rchang@sph.com.sg

This article was published on April 4 in The Straits Times.

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