More scope for Sino-S'pore cooperation: DPM Teo
Business China Awards 2016 were conferred on NUS Professor Wang Gungwu; GGV Capital managing partner Jenny Lee; and the Bank of China
By Lynette Khoo
EVEN as Business China celebrates luminaries who have helped bolster Sino-Singapore ties in one way or another, new areas are opening up for Singapore to step up its cooperation with China in trade, business and financial market development.
"The Belt and Road initiative, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the internationalisation of the renminbi (RMB), the new digital economy, and the search by Chinese companies for new overseas markets and investments, offer new opportunities to strengthen bilateral links and business partnerships in these growth areas," said Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security.
He was speaking at the annual awards dinner of Business China, a non-profit organisation that aims to nurture bilingual and bicultural Singaporeans.
Receiving the awards on Tuesday were professor Wang Gungwu, chairman of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy & East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore; Jenny Lee, Shanghai-based managing partner of venture capital firm GGV Capital; and the Bank of China. They were respective recipients of the Excellence Award, Young Achiever Award and Enterprise Award.
Mr Teo noted that the two countries, which celebrated 25 years of diplomatic relations last year, can further strengthen business partnerships and people-to-people links with China's Belt and Road initiative.
Besides its strategic location between the Indian and Pacific basins on the Maritime Silk Road, Singapore is also strategically connected to a key node on the "Belt" through the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI), which is aimed at catalysing developments in China's Western region.
Mr Teo noted that this latest bilateral cooperation is progressing well and as the CCI develops, it will strengthen economic links between Singapore and Chongqing, and to the other countries along the Belt and Road initiative.
As part of the CCI, cross-border renminbi transactions for companies and individuals in Chongqing were made possible in March this year. This marks a furtherance of Singapore's active promotion of renminbi internationalisation.
IE Singapore has also been working closely with Chinese and Singapore banks to syndicate financing to support Belt and Road projects, particularly in South-east Asia. It has signed agreements with major Chinese banks to provide S$90 billion of trade financing for Singapore and Chinese companies in Belt and Road projects, Mr Teo said.
To beef up business links in the digital economy, both countries have announced that they are developing a new "digital superhighway" to provide high speed connectivity between Singapore and Chongqing.
Business China also inked a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the China Internet Development Foundation in July this year to strengthen bilateral collaboration in infocomm technology, mobile applications, the Internet of Things, and further develop the digital links between both countries.
Elaine Lam, head of global corporate banking at OCBC Bank which is co-presenter of Business China Awards, noted that this year's winners showcase very diverse contributions towards the depth and strength of Singapore-China ties.
Award winner Prof Wang, 86, is a well-respected historian and internationally renowned scholar of Chinese culture and heritage, whose work has fostered a better understanding of the historical links between both countries, and placed contemporary developments in China in a better context.
His pioneering of overseas Chinese studies strengthened Singapore's position as an independent resource centre on China news and developments. Prof Wang also set up scholarships and loan funds for students with excellent academic and research achievements in East Asian studies as well as assisted those with financial difficulties.
Ms Lee of GGV Capital, 44, was instrumental in setting up the firm's presence in China since 2005. She has led investments into some 30 companies, mainly in software or business services, and Internet and digital media sectors. One of her best investments was the 2010 backing of social platform YY, which went public in the US in 2012 and yielded a stunning return of 30-40 times on capital.
She was also an angel investor in Xiaomi, a Chinese mobile phone startup that is now worth more than US$45 billion (S$61 billion). Her involvement may be one of the reasons Xiaomi chose Singapore as the first country to launch its international sales. Ms Lee was also one of two Singaporean women to be named in Forbes' annual list of the 100 most powerful women this year.
As for Bank of China (BOC), it opened its Singapore branch in the 1930s and has promoted the development of renminbi business, commodities business and private banking business here, further boosting Singapore's status as an international financial centre.
In 2011, BOC also collaborated with Singapore's Fullerton Financial Holdings to establish the BOC Fullerton Community Bank, the first of its kind here to be set up jointly by a Chinese commercial bank and an international partner.
Courtesy of The Business Times, 23 November 2016