Yan’an, Shaanxi: At the end of his six-day visit to China, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean emphasized the similarities between Singapore and China, even if the former is much smaller in size than the latter.
DPM Teo also noted the good ties between the two nations, even as he pointed out the similarities between the two in terms of retaining skills, the transformation of the economy, and how to handle a population that is growing older.
He told reporters, “We have been able to work as partners in keeping with the times. China’s needs and requirements change, its economic and social situation changes, and so too in Singapore and in the world – technology and global markets and so on.
What is a feature of our relationship is that we have always been able to find new areas of cooperation and that comes about because we have very close conversations with them at all levels.”
Mr Teo called the visit a good opportunity to reunite with longtime friends, forge new relationship ties, as well as to discover new ways for cooperation between the two nations, including a new bilateral council to be established in Shanghai for the purpose of exploring new paths of engagement for Singapore and Shanghai.
Additionally, both nations are also exploring how the success of projects such as the Suzhou Industrial Park can be brought to other countries.
It was during this visit that the Deputy Prime Minister attended the 25th anniversary of Suzhou Industrial Park, which was the first government-to-government project between China and Singapore.
He told reporters that even if officially, there have only been 30 years of formal ties between the two countries, relations between Singapore and China have been “excellent” even before that, dating back 40 years when China opened up.
Along with the DPM, Minister for Trade and Industry and the Minister-in-Charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, Senior Ministers of State Janil Puthucheary and Edwin Tong, and Senior Parliamentary Secretaries Sun Xueling and Tan Wu Meng also attended the six-day trip to China.
According to Mr Teo, it was a good chance for the country’s 4G, or new generation of leaders, to be able to meet leaders in China. As a young man, he had gained much advantage from such visits, under Singapore’s former President Ong Teng Cheong, founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, and LKY’s successor Goh Chok Tong.
He said, “When you visit you say you take a picture and it’s a snapshot, it’s a still picture, but to see China as an ongoing movie – it’s a drama that’s unfolding. It’s one of the biggest human dramas in the world today. How do you raise 800 million people out of poverty in such a short space of time and where this giant of a country is going in the future?
It is a great human drama and to see it unfolding is a great opportunity. So I benefited from the opportunities that Mr Lee and Mr Goh and President Ong provided for me and I see it as my responsibility to pass this on to the next generation of leaders.”
On his part, the Trade and Industry Minister underlined the importance of understanding China on all levels.
“Without a keen sense of what is happening on the ground at the central level and the provincial level, it would be impossible for us to boost areas of cooperation that are relevant to them and for us to do this, we need to not only have the institutional links between respective ministries and organisations, we need to have personal ties.”
Mr Chan is also the vice chairman of the Singapore-China leadership forum.
Mr Teo wrote about his visit to Yan’an in his Facebook page, “Visited Yangjialing Revolutionary Site & Liangjiahe Village in Yan’an today to better understand the CPC’s history. Mao and CPC leaders lived in Yangjialing from 1935 to 1948 when the CPC Central Committee was based in Yan’an. President Xi Jinping spent 7 years in Liangjiahe Village from 1969 to 1975 as a ‘sent down youth’ or ‘educated youth’ (知青) to experience rural life.”/ TISG