Singaporean Enterprises Speed up Expansion in Western China

Plans to explore a new model of regional collaboration platform between western China and Southeast Asia.

SINGAPORE, Feb. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire-Asia/ -- Singaporean enterprises including Meritus Hotels & Resorts and CapitaLand (China) Investment Co. have plans to pump up their investment in western China, with Chengdu's Tianfu New Zone likely to emerge as the hottest magnet for investors.

On February 15, the Chengdu Channel of Singapore's Lianhe Zaobao ( and Symposium for Singaporean & Sichuan Entrepreneurs Investing in Tianfu New Zone were launched in Chengdu, providing yet another avenue for cooperation and exchanges between businesspeople and policy-makers of Sichuan and the southeast Asian country, following the Singapore-Sichuan High-Tech Innovation Park, a major venture also located in Tianfu New Zone.

Chengdu Channel of the Lianhe Zaobao website is a multi-media platform established jointly by Chengdu Overseas Media Services and Singapore Press Holdings, the publisher of Lianhe Zaobao. It is aimed to serve as a key communications channel for businesses and governments of Singapore and Sichuan.

Chengdu Channel will hold regular investment events for Singapore and Chengdu entrepreneurs to spur their mutual business cooperation and exchange. It plans to explore a new model of regional collaboration platform between western China with Chengdu as the focal point and Southeast Asia centered on Singapore.

At the first Symposium for Singaporean & Sichuan Entrepreneurs Investing in Tianfu New Zone, potentials in the Tianfu New Zone and seeking partnerships to capitalize on these opportunities topped the agenda for discussion between participants.

Regarding the prospects of Singaporean companies in China, Pang Te Cheng, Consul General of the Consulate-General of the Republic of Singapore in Chengdu, said that many of these companies have already predicted and prepared for the impending relocation of production facilities from China's east coast toward the nation's western region.

Last September, cooperation between Sichuan and Singapore reached a new apex when the agreement for the Singapore-Sichuan High-Tech Innovation Park was concluded.

Consul General Pang noted that Sichuan and Chengdu have undergone full speed social and economic growth over the recent years, especially after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. In 2011, Sichuan achieved an economic aggregate of over RMB2 trillion, a 15% growth and the second-fastest among Chinese provinces, while Chengdu recorded RMB685.5 billion in GDP, a 15.2% increase that ranks fourth in China's sub-provincial cities. Add to that the potential of the Tianfu New Zone, often deemed to arise as a new Chengdu, and revitalization of the city's northern area, Sichuan and, in particular, its capital are fast becoming the core of the western China expansion.

Chengdu's economic growth has parlayed into deeper ties with Singapore. The construction of the Singapore-Sichuan High-Tech Innovation Park, the first wave of development of the prominent Tianfu New Zone, signals a new height of Singaporean investment and a sizable vessel for future cooperation. Add to that other ventures such as the landmark Raffles City, under development by the Chinese subsidiary of Singapore-based CapitaLand, to open in Chengdu in the middle of the year, traffic between the two regions will likely continue to rise. Last year, more than 45,000 Sichuan residents visited Singapore, among which over 37,000 were from Chengdu, up 25% and 24% year on year respectively.

Hoon Teck Ming, General Manager of Southwest China of CapitaLand China Holdings, said the company has been paying close attention to the government's planning of and policies affecting the Tianfu New Zone. The Singapore-Sichuan High-Tech Innovation Park, with its strong industry orientation and infrastructure supports, will attract various resources and promote population influx and property development, and many more of these urban-industrial integrations will materialize in the New Zone.

Kenneth Choo, Director of China Operations of Singaporean training provider NTUC LearningHub and director of the Sichuan branch of the Singapore Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China (SingCham), revealed that NTUC plans to open a professional training school in the Singapore-Sichuan High-Tech Innovation Park to provide Singaporean and other foreign-funded companies in Chengdu with vocational training programs. Star Alliance Education & Services' director Shelly Seah also noted that Chengdu has a promising education market, and the company will increase its expenditure in the city this year.

Yee Loon Lau, Business Development Director with Singapore's Meritus Hotels & Resorts, was cited as applauding the growth of the hospitality industry in Chengdu, as many world-class hotels including Intercontinental and Shangri-La have established their presence in the city and are driving the local market toward high-end consumption and high-intensity competition. Nonetheless, Lau expressed confidence in the sector's continual growth following the construction of Tianfu New Zone, and recently flew to the city for talks over a hotel development project.

Singapore Prime Minister's Office Cabinet Minister and Singapore-Sichuan Trade and Investment Committee (SSTIC) consultant Lim Swee Say said in an earlier interview that Singaporean government and enterprises have invested in several large-scale projects in China such as the Suzhou Industrial Park, Tianjin Ecological City, and Guangzhou Knowledge City, but that "the Singapore-Sichuan Innovation Park in the Tianfu New Zone will surpass the others."

Source: Information Office of Chengdu Municiple Government