封面新闻记者 马梦飞 雷远东
Journalist: What are the events of Singapore, the Guest Country of Honour (GCH) of the 18th Western China International Fair (WCIF) and how these events will contribute to the cooperation between Singapore and Sichuan?
CG Tan: Singapore is happy to accept the invitation from Sichuan Province to be the GCH at the 18th WCIF. We are the first Southeast Asian country to do so. This is testament to the province’s increasing focus on its internationalisation efforts with a focus on Southeast Asia, and the strong and longstanding friendship between Singapore and Sichuan.
This year, because of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 situation, we are not able to have a visiting delegation from Singapore. However, Singapore Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Trade and Industry Dr Tan See Leng will deliver a speech at the Opening Ceremony of the 18th WCIF on 16 September, and Ambassador in Beijing Lui Tuck Yew will also visit Sichuan for this event. A representative from the Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) will also be speaking at the 2021 Western China International Digital Economy Cooperation Forum on 17 September.
Singapore and Sichuan will also hold the 22nd Singapore-Sichuan Trade and Investment Committee (SSTIC) meeting, which will take place virtually on 17 September. Established in 1996, SSTIC is one of Singapore’s earliest business councils with a Chinese province, and remains the only one in Western China. Since its inception, the Committee has provided a high-level bilateral platform to deepen and widen our economic cooperation.
Singapore has been closely following the recent developments in Western China, including its role in China’s regional development strategies such as the Chengdu-Chongqing Economic Circle and the Western Region Development Strategy. The timely announcement of the guidelines on advancing Western Region development in a new era in May 2020 will further boost Sichuan’s efforts in becoming an inland international and development hub.
There are many sectors and industries in which Singaporean companies have been working closely with their Sichuanese partners. Moving forward, Singapore hopes that our companies can play a more active role in the province’s logistics, ICT, energy and R&D sectors given Sichuan’s strengths in these sectors. We have many excellent companies involved in these sectors, and are confident that they will be able to contribute to the local ecosystem. We also hope that Singapore brandnames in F&B and lifestyle products will contribute to Chengdu’s cosmopolitan landscape. I am confident that there is more that we can achieve together to cooperate in various sectors for mutual benefit.
Journalist: What we could expect from the exhibition of Singapore as the GCH of the 18th WCIF? Any concrete actions from Singapore to be part of the new round of western China development?
CG Tan: 10 Singapore companies across various sectors such as ICT, F&B, consumer products, real estate and property management will be participating in the WCIF. They are CapitaLand, Charles & Keith, Founder Bak Kut Teh, Mapletree, NCS, Perennial, Putien, ST Engineering, Yanlord and Yeo Hiap Seng. In addition, we will be showcasing several Singapore technology innovation companies based at the Singapore Innovation Centre in the Singapore-Sichuan Hi-Tech Innovation Park. The Consulate-General has also curated a display of Singapore’s relations with China, and with Sichuan, at the Singapore Pavilion.
Sichuan residents will be aware that many well-known Singapore companies such as CapitaLand, Yanlord and OCBC have invested in Sichuan, when China was opening up to the world several decades ago. However, there are also many other enterprises from Singapore which have also ventured to Sichuan in recent years. This is why the Singapore Pavilion at the 18th WCIF has chosen to include a mix of Singaporean companies across various industries and sizes. We hope that the Sichuan audience will have a better understanding of the broad range of investments from Singapore and continue to lend their support.
Take for example, ST Engineering whose international portfolio covers the domains of smart cities, aerospace, satellite communications and public security, serving customers in more than 100 countries. ST Engineering first invested in China in 1998 and currently has six offices in China - Shanghai, Chengdu, Chongqing, Wuxi, Tianjin, and Kunming. It has also contributed to the development of the transport network in Chengdu over the years. In 2011, ST Engineering designed Chengdu’s Intelligent Transportation System (ITS), an integrated platform for traffic monitoring and traffic control optimisation that enabled the traffic management department to make informed policy decisions and manage emergency situations effectively. In 2020, ST Engineering launched the Smart Variable Message System (VMS) along the Chengdu-Ya’an Expressway, which also helped to optimise toll collection through automation and big data.
Moving forward, I am confident that Singaporean companies will continue to see the potential in Western China and explore new investment opportunities. Against this backdrop, the Singapore Consulate-General would like to express hope that the local governments can continue to support and facilitate investments by Singaporean companies to create a win-win outcome which will also benefit ordinary citizens.
Journalist: This year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Singapore Consulate-General in Chengdu. In the past 10 years, how the Consulate General has promoted the bilateral relations?
Singapore first established a Consulate in Chengdu in 2004 in view of the increasing number of Singapore companies establishing a presence in the city, as well as Singaporeans who choose to live, work and play here. As political and economic ties between both sides continued to expand, the Consulate was upgraded to become a Consulate-General in 2011 in order to better facilitate mutual cooperation and exchanges. Today, Singapore is Sichuan’s largest foreign investor and there have been many high-level exchanges between the leaders of both sides. We share close people-to-people relations, and many Singaporean students visited the province as part of their school immersion programmes. Prior to COVID-19, there were three to four daily flights, depending on the season, between Singapore and Chengdu.
自2011年新加坡总领事馆成立以来，我们一直与四川的朋友和伙伴保持密切合作，致力于加强新加坡与四川的双边关系和交流。新加坡企业发展局(ESG)和新加坡旅游局(STB)等新加坡机构也都在成都设立了办事处。近年来，我们参与或举办了成都国际美食文化节(2018 - 2020年)、新加坡电影节(2019年)、新加坡娘惹文化节(2019年)以及新川文化交流节(2018年)等活动。我们还与成都市人民政府外事办公室合作，在2021年7月为成渝领团组织了一场运动联谊会。现在成都香格里拉酒店正在举办新加坡美食节，活动将持续到2021年9月中旬。此外，从现在一直到10月底，全国的ABC cooking门店有新加坡甜点的制作课程。我们希望四川居民能继续品尝到新加坡的风味，并期待在不久的将来，能欢迎大家来访新加坡。
Since the establishment of the Singapore Consulate-General in 2011, we have strived to enhance bilateral relations and exchanges between Singapore and Sichuan in cooperation with our friends and partners in the province. Singapore agencies such as Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) have also established offices in Chengdu. Some of the activities we organised or participated in recent years include the Chengdu International Food and Cultural Festival (2018 to 2020), Singapore Film Festival (2019), Singapore Peranakan Festival at Chengdu Museum (2019), and the Singapore-Sichuan Cultural Festival at Raffles City Chengdu (2018). We also collaborated with the Chengdu Foreign Affairs Office to organise a Sports Day for the Consular Corps in Chengdu and Chongqing in July 2021, and there is an ongoing Singaporean Food Festival at Shangri-La Chengdu till mid-September 2021. In addition, ABC Cooking Studio is currently conducting a course on preparing Singaporean desserts till end-October 2021. We hope that Sichuan residents can continue to have a taste of Singapore even amidst the current situation and look forward to welcoming everyone to Singapore soon.
Journalist: What is your impression of Chengdu? How the city differs from Singapore? In closing, is there anything you wish to say to the upcoming WCIF?
Chengdu is nearly 20 times the size of Singapore. Having lived in Chengdu for close to two years, I greatly enjoy the numerous parks and green spaces which are easily accessible for ordinary residents, and has earned Chengdu the well-deserved moniker of “Park City”. In particular, I enjoy cycling along the Tianfu Greenway with my family during the weekends, and visiting various parks along the way.
Our favourite park is 江家艺苑 where there is an art sculpture, named Teh-Cha-Tea, designed by a husband-and-wife pair of Singaporean sculptors! The extensive metro system and well-laid out city design has also greatly impressed me as it speaks volumes of the level of thought and care put in by successive generations of planners to improve the overall liveability of the city. But most of all, what I treasure the most are the friendly and warm Chengdu residents whom I have met.
There are many similarities between the peoples of both sides. For example, most Singaporeans enjoy a good Sichuanese hotpot as evidenced by how hotpot brands such as Haidilao and Xiaolongkan have done so well in Singapore over the past few years. Many Singaporeans also have a soft spot for pandas, and I am happy to share that the two pandas in Singapore, which originated from Sichuan, have recently given birth to a baby panda just last month. But most importantly, our peoples share a common aspiration to continuously improve and upgrade which drives innovation and improvement. I am confident that there is more that we can achieve together to cooperate in various sectors for mutual benefit.
In conclusion, I hope that the 18th WCIF would be a rousing success, and I am confident that Sichuan and Chengdu will continue to scale new heights in the years ahead. All the best!