Working with Singapore for a better future
A new China-Singapore collaboration is expected to bear fruitful results as the two countries look to forge closer ties.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang stressed the importance of expanding bilateral pragmatic cooperation and reaffirmed China’s commitment to opening-up, while talking with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in November.
During Li’s visit to Singapore, he stressed facilitating knowledge cooperation with its Asian country counterpart.
A number of collaborative deals have been inked between the two countries over the years.
Eying to boost a two-way trade and investment deal, a memorandum of understanding upgrading the two countries’ free trade agreement was also inked in November.
The inaugural meeting of the Singapore-Shanghai Comprehensive Cooperation Council was held yesterday, the first day of the Pujiang Innovation Forum.
It’s also Shanghai’s first comprehensive institutionalized platform with a foreign country, which will help to anchor Singapore’s engagement with China’s financial and business center and tap into the economic integration of the Yangtze River Delta region.
Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, who is also Finance Minister, and Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong are the co-chairmen of the SSCCC, while Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Law and Health Edwin Tong and Shanghai Vice Mayor Xu Kunlin serve as vice co-chairmen.
The ministerial-level platform aims to deepen cooperation in six key areas, namely the Belt and Road Initiative, financial services, technology and innovation, ease of doing business, urban governance, and people-to-people exchanges.
Yew Sung Pei, assistant CEO of Enterprise Singapore, said in an interview with Shanghai Daily that it is time for Singapore and Shanghai to come together given the shift of global economic activities towards Asia.
“As key economic, financial, trading, maritime, and tech and innovation nodes in Asia, both cities can deepen our connectivity and jointly ride on this wave of growth,” he said.
Shanghai enterprises and startups can also gain leverage with Singapore’s vibrant innovation ecosystem, establish business infrastructure and familiarity with Southeast Asia markets to springboard into the region.
A separate MOU on the Implementation Framework for Enhancing Singapore-China Third-Party Market Cooperation was also signed between Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry and China’s National Development and Reform Commission in November.
Sectors including logistics, e-commerce, infrastructure and professional services, such as financial and legal services, are highlighted as areas for collaboration in third-party markets under the BRI.
Both sides will also formulate and maintain a project list to keep track of third-party market cooperation projects between Singapore and China.
The China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, has become a model for bilateral collaboration, and has been replicated in several Chinese cities, including Chuzhou in Anhui Province and Khorgos in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
In recent years, it has also seen steady growth of emerging high-tech industries such as biomedicine and nanotechnology.
According to the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry, business between Singapore and the Suzhou Industrial Park grew 20.2 percent from the previous year to more than US$2 billion last year.
Singapore’s government spends about 1 percent of GDP a year on research, innovation and enterprise, so that investments in R&D will lead to innovations that create new products, services or companies.
External collaboration is also an important part of its efforts in recent years.
A sector of focus is urban sustainability.
Dense urban centers in metropolises such as Shanghai are facing urban sustainability challenges, similar to those encountered by Singapore.
There is much scope for cooperation in developing the technology needed for a sustainable urban future.
Singapore has made various efforts in research work and the application of water recycling technology, renewable energy and smart grid technology, urban planning solutions, and agri-tech and food sustainability — some of the key issues for China as urbanization pushes forward.
Singapore’s efforts can complement China’s endeavor at different municipal scales, for example, Xiong’an New Area and the sustainable development zones in Shenzhen, Taiyuan and Guilin.
Another area with potential for further collaboration is health care.
With China’s large number of patients and Singapore’s leadership in novel cancer therapies, collaborative efforts in clinical trials between the two countries could yield significant breakthroughs such as new therapeutic modalities for the treatment of common Asian diseases.
Singapore has built a strong base of basic, translational and clinical research capabilities through sustained investments in the health and biomedical sciences. Today, Singapore has an even more vibrant biotech/medtech ecosystem and is an attractive base for companies to access the fast growing Asia-Pacific markets.
In November 2015, the National Research Foundation Singapore and the National Natural Science Foundation of China signed a five-year MOU to explore collaboration between Chinese and Singaporean researchers through joint grants.
The first joint grant in the area of emerging infectious diseases was announced on June 1, 2016.
The projects investigated approaches to combat diseases arising from viral infections such as influenza, Zika and hepatitis B, which affect both countries.
Some potential areas of collaboration include cell and gene therapies and precision medicine, an emerging field that seeks to optimize disease treatment, interception and prevention by incorporating individual and population variability in genes, environment and lifestyle factors.
A key aspect of mutual interest for Singapore and China could be to build capabilities in privacy-preserving data analytics and trusted secure data sharing for the development of innovative technology platforms for precision medicine.
An example of an ongoing research partnership is between the National University of Singapore and Shanghai Jiao Tong University at the Campus For Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise. It is an international research campus and innovation hub approved by Singapore’s National Research Foundation.
Under the Energy and Environmental Sustainability for Megacities program, researchers from the two universities have developed an anaerobic digester system that recycles food scraps to produce electricity and heat.
With support from the National Research Foundation Singapore, researchers from Shanghai Jiao Tong and the NUS have successfully developed an engineering system that generates renewable energy from food and horticultural waste.
The system which is self-sustaining, is being piloted at one of the six halls of residence of the NUS and is also looking at potential opportunities to be deployed in China as well.