‘S’pore a strong supporter of China’s Belt and Road’

Both sides aim to enhance physical, digital connectivity, among others, says DPM Teo
Published: 4:00 AM, July 14, 2017

SINGAPORE — Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean yesterday reiterated Singapore’s support of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), while noting that both countries have made it a key focus area for bilateral cooperation.

Delivering the opening speech at the FutureChina Global Forum yesterday morning, he noted that both sides are looking at how to enhance physical and digital connectivity, financial connectivity, as well as people-to-people connectivity.

“We are an early and strong supporter of both the Belt and Road, and the AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank),” said Mr Teo, adding that Singapore had joined 20 other countries as founding signatories of the AIIB agreement in October 2014.

He added that Singapore and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Jointly Building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road at the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing in May this year.

A good example of enhancing physical and digital connectivity is the third Singapore-China government-to-government project launched two years ago, the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity, also known as CCI, said Mr Teo.

He recounted that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Chinese President Xi Jinping, during their meeting at the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Hamburg last week, had discussed how Singapore could work with China to implement the BRI.

He said there has been “good progress in the priority areas of finance, transport and logistics, aviation and info-communications technology”.

Singapore and China are also working together to connect the overland Belt with the maritime Road through a Southern Transport Corridor from Chongqing to Guangxi, Mr Teo added.

“This new corridor, which has the advantage of being entirely within China’s territory, will offer a shorter and more direct trade route between Western China and the sea at Beibu Gulf, and onwards through the Straits of Singapore and Malacca to the Indian Ocean, Africa and Europe,” said Mr Teo.

On financial cooperation, he noted that Asia is expected to require US$26 trillion (S$35.8 trillion) of infrastructure investment from now to 2030, and this creates opportunities to deepen financial linkages between Singapore and China to support new project financing needs and the internationalisation of the renminbi.

“Many financial institutions have major operations in Singapore which service countries along the Belt and Road. These financial institutions can play an active role in financing increased trade and investments between China and Asean (Association of South-east Asian Nations), and along the Belt and Road,” Mr Teo said.

The two countries can also collaborate with third countries along the Belt and Road in human capital development, he added.

“The Belt and Road Initiative is a grand vision that has the potential to bring long-lasting benefits for regional development and integration, uplifting the economies and people across this whole vast region,” he said.

“Singapore will work with China to help realise this potential.”