ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
China's growing financial sector will benefit Singapore: PM Lee
Singapore sees the growth and opening up of China's financial industry as an opportunity, not a threat, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in an interview with Guangzhou newspaper Nanfang Daily ahead of his visit to the city. Mr Lee was asked about the Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ) and how it could affect Singapore's position as the region's financial hub.
Mr Lee said China's financial industry will become more "comprehensive, open and sophisticated" as the country advances. And in the same way financial institutions in Singapore do business with New York and London, China's financial sector, as it matures and opens up, will offer new opportunities to Singapore and beyond. "We do not see this as a threat, rather as an opportunity," he said.
Officially launched in late 2013, the 29 square-kilometre free trade zone in the outskirts of Shanghai has been called a test bed for financial reforms and new business rules before they're rolled out to the rest of China.
Asked how China can avoid "copying" Singapore, Mr Lee said it would be "presumptuous" for Singapore to aim to be a model for China. "We are a small country, especially compared to China, and our strategic context and history is different from China's," he said.
Nevertheless, Mr Lee said Chinese officials have found Singapore an interesting case study and likewise, Singapore also wants to learn from China - one reason why Singapore officials regularly visit the country.
Singapore and China are exploring a third government-to-government project in Western China to take bilateral relations to the next level, after jointly setting up an industrial park in Suzhou and an "eco-city" in Tianjin.
On this, Mr Lee told Nanfang Daily that Singapore wants a project that "fits in with China's priorities, will be fully supported by the local authorities and will be commercially viable". Mr Lee arrives in Guangzhou, one of China's largest and wealthiest cities on Thursday (Sep 11), his second visit to the province as Prime Minister. He is scheduled to meet Guangdong Party Community Party chief Hu Chunhua on the same day.
Ties between Singapore and the southern China province are close. Guangdong was Singapore's top provincial trading partner in China, and Singapore was Guangdong's largest foreign investor in 2013. Singapore's cumulative investments in Guangdong amounted to US$9.7 billion (S$12.25 billion) as of the first half of 2014.
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