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Speech By DPM Lee Hsien Loong, At The Launch Of The Singapore-Suzhou Club, 16 January 2002 At 5.30 P.M. At The Equinox, Swissotel, The Stamford

01 Apr 2002

Suzhou Party Secretary Chen Deming,
Suzhou Mayor Yang Weize,
Ambassador Zhang Jiuhuan,
Friends from Suzhou,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

1. I am very happy to join you this afternoon for the launch of the Singapore-Suzhou Club, whose aim is to promote and deepen friendship between the people of Suzhou and Singapore.

2. Ours is a special relationship, developed over the last seven years as the governments of China and Singapore worked closely on the Suzhou Industrial Park. When this project was mooted, its objective was not just the physical development of another township in China, but to use the park as a vehicle to share our experience in economic management with the Chinese government. More than 800 officials from Jiangsu Province and Suzbou have visited Singapore to study our system of public administration. Jointly we have developed a modern industrial township in Suzhou.

3. This was an ambitious, unprecedented undertaking. The cultures and expectations of both parties were different. As the project progressed, we encountered many challenges. But through sincerity and close consultation, we overcame these challenges amicably and fundamentally, and completed the first eight square kilometers of SIP's development. Since 1 Jan 2000, the shareholding structure has changed, and the Chinese side has taken the lead in the further development of the park.

4. Today, the SIP is a tangible symbol of the close co-operation between China and Singapore. It is a beautiful and well-managed township. It has established and maintained a reputation for efficiency, transparent policies, high standards of planning and enforcement, and comprehensive infrastructure.

5. Equally importantly, our interactions and exchanges have enabled us to build up close rapport and a warm working relationship based on mutual trust and the spirit of co-operation, not only with the Suzhou Municipal Government, but also with the Jiangsu Provincial Government and the Central Government. We now understand much better each other's systems of public administration, and in particular each other's approaches to planning, developing and managing industrial parks.

6. We must continue to build on our strong foundation of friendship and collaboration. I am happy that in June last year, JTC Corp and the Suzhou Industrial Park Administration Committee signed a friendship agreement to further strengthen ties, through greater co-operation and communication. Both agencies will jointly promote co-operation in areas including economics, science and technology, construction, talent-training, customer service and environmental protection.

7. However, in fostering better relationships between Suzhou and Singapore, we should not confine ourselves to government efforts. Individuals are key to any relationship building. I am thus happy that a group of Singaporeans who have worked in Suzhou have taken the lead to continue building on their ties with Suzhou. I understand that most of the founding members of the Singapore Suzhou Club are now back in Singapore. However, they still cherish fond memories of their experiences in Suzhou and have not forgotten their Chinese friends. They have thus come together to form the Singapore Suzhou Club to keep up and deepen their ties with Suzhou. It is a commendable initiative, and may I congratulate the Singapore Suzhou Club on its launch and wish it every success. Let me conclude now with a few words in Mandarin.