China, Singapore hold 8th joint council meeting for bilateral cooperation

08:50, July 28, 2011      

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The 8th China-Singapore Joint Council Meeting for Bilateral Cooperation, chaired by Visiting Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan and Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, was held here on Wednesday.

During the meeting, Wang said that the bilateral ties have been growing between the two countries, with frequent exchanges of visits by leaders and senior officials, and that the joint council meetings, held annually since 2003, have helped push forward the bilateral cooperation.


Wang said that the recent global financial crisis happened because something went wrong with the world financial system, which is the core of the modern economy.

There are still many uncertainties in the international economy and financial system, and the global economy will not come out of the recession soon. The advanced economies such as the United States, Europe and Japan, and the emerging economies all suffered from the crisis. The international community should be prepared for a long-term struggle against the crisis, Wang said.

As a major developing country, China will first manage its own challenges and try to strike a balance between the stability of the economy, economic restructuring and preventing inflation, Wang added.

Chinese officials at the meeting said much has been achieved since the two sides signed a free trade agreement last year. Bilateral trade grew by 19 percent to 57.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2010.

The two sides also made breakthroughs in cooperation in financial services. A currency swap agreement worth 150 billion yuan was signed last year, and a first 25 million yuan was tapped in July this year for the purpose of trade settlement.

Chinese officials at the meeting said they are hoping that Singapore may consider issuing Qualifying Full Bank (QFB) licenses to the Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China in Singapore.

The QFB license will allow a foreign bank to open up to 25 branches and off-site ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) in Singapore.

Foreign banks have different categories of licenses in Singapore. The BOC, which has been operating in Singapore for decades, has a Full Bank license now with seven branches. The ICBC have a wholesale banking license that does not allow it to offer retail banking products and services.

Now seven Chinese provinces have established bilateral trade and economic councils with Singapore, and progress is fast on bilateral cooperation projects like the Knowledge City in Guangzhou, a food industry park in China's northeastern province of Jilin and the northeastern coastal city of Dalian.

The Chinese officials said they are looking forward to furthering bilateral ties and boosting cooperation with Singapore in science and technology, education and culture.

Teo said the sound political coordination and well-developed cooperation mechanism are helping push forward the bilateral ties.

Singapore and China share many challenges at a time when there are uncertainties in the global economy, and the two countries should further explore the potentials, expand the cooperation and take advantage of the opportunities where they have complementary advantages, he said.

China is welcome to take advantage of Singapore's status as the gateway to the world, he added.

Wang and Teo witnessed the signing of the Protocol to Amend the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, and the Supplemental to the China Banking Regulatory Commission-Monetary Authority of Singapore Memorandum of Understanding -- Statement of Cooperation on Crisis Management.


They also chaired 13th China-Singapore Joint Steering Council Meeting for the Suzhou Industrial Park earlier on Wednesday. Wang said the Suzhou Industry Park, the first joint-venture project with support from the Chinese central government and the Singapore government, is now continuing to grow fast after 17 years of development.

Wang said the industry park is now speeding up its upgrading and transformation process, with favorable developments in technological innovation, low-carbon and energy conservation as well as the growing of its services industry.

The vice premier also said the Suzhou Industry Park should transform its ways of economic development and carry out restructuring, in accordance with China's efforts to upgrade its economy in the 2011-2015 period covered by the country's 12th five- year plan.

He also called on the joint-venture industry park to help boost the international competitiveness of the enterprises by making more efforts in advanced manufacturing and high-tech and grow its services sector faster.

Teo said that it has proved a right decision by China and Singapore to establish the industry park, and that it is more than just a successful project -- it is an example of the bilateral cooperation for mutual benefit.


The deputy prime ministers also chaired a meeting on Sino- Singapore Tianjin Eco-City, another joint venture project with support from the top leaders and a concept that has attracted the attention of many.

The project is aimed at setting an example for the development of a green and liveable city in the modern world, and the success of the project should be able to be repeated elsewhere. The Tianjin Eco-City will welcome its first residents when the first phase is completed no later than early 2012.

Speaking at the 4th China-Singapore Joint Steering Council Meeting for the Tianjin Eco-city, Wang said the joint venture project is an effort to tackle the ecological challenges facing the mankind by developing a sustainable and green path to industrialization and urbanization.

China must pursue a change in its way of development and way of living in order to tackle the numerous challenges it faces as a developing economy that has to catch up, Wang said.

The two sides should work together to make the Tianjin Eco-City a project that can be repeated and sustainable, Wang said.

Teo said the Tianjin Eco-City is significant in addressing the climate change and the ever pressing issues of urbanization.

Wang arrived in Singapore on Tuesday for a three-day visit. He is expected to leave Singapore on Thursday.

Source: Xinhua
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