The Business Times

Business China forum to promote sustainable development

22 May 2019


With continuing trade tensions between the two largest economies in the world threatening the outlook for global economic growth, some 600 leading businessmen will be meeting at a one-day forum here in Singapore next month to talk about promoting "Sustainable Development in a Dynamic World Order".

The meeting is being organised by Singapore-based Business China which aims to help identify relevant growth areas for Singapore businesses through the 10th FutureChina Global Forum (FCGF). The 9th Business China Awards (BCA) will be presented in conjunction with the forum. The awards honour outstanding individuals and enterprises for their contributions to Singapore-China relations as well as promoting bilingualism and biculturalism in Singapore.

The FCGF and BCA, which are the flagship events of Business China, will be held on June 7, 2019 at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat is the guest of honour of FCGF 2019 and will give the opening keynote speech. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is Business China's Patron, will present the Business China Awards. He will also hold a fireside chat to discuss relevant topics.

The BCA honours outstanding individuals and organisations who have strengthened Singapore-China relations and sustainability efforts. The chairman of the BCA judging panel and managing director of GMT Investments Pte Ltd, Stephen Lee, says: "We are pleased to present the 9th edition of BCA which is highly prestigious and accorded with importance from Singapore and China. With a refreshed judging panel, we have received over 40 quality nominations this year.

Deepening ties

"We are encouraged to see an increase in individuals and enterprises exhibiting sustained efforts to deepen relations with Singapore and China. We are confident that BCA will continue to encourage more individuals and enterprises to contribute to Singapore-China relations and achieve far-reaching impact in their various fields."

Business China says that the forum will feature eminent regional speakers who will address the critical question of how countries can maintain sustainable growth economically, environmentally and technologically amid the global geopolitical complexities.

Among those who will be speaking at the forum are Ban Ki-moon, former UN chief, president of assembly & chair of Global Green Growth Institute, and chairman of Bo'ao Forum for Asia; Fan Gang, president of China Development Institute and Steven Davis, William H. Abbott distinguished service professor of international business and economics, The University of Chicago Booth School of Business & senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, executive committee member & senior fellow of Asian Bureau of Finance and Economic Research (ABFER); along with founders of unicorns, like Zhang Ligang, founder and chairman of iKang Healthcare Group and founder of eLong; and John Wu, founding partner and chairman of FengHe Group.

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and chairman of FutureChina Committee, Koh Poh Koon says: "Business China is proud to organise FCGF, an annual flagship event that has established itself as the major event for business executives and personalities with an interest in China. Into its 10th year, FCGF remains relevant and current.

"At present, economic blocs are constantly realigning themselves which makes the world highly dynamic; and with China identifying the Greater Bay Area as a driver of the next phase of economic activities, FCGF 2019 aims to bring together authorities and experts from Singapore, China and the region to discuss the opportunities, challenges and solutions towards future sustainable growth."

This year will also see the inaugural Business China Youth Forum which is themed "Sustainability starts from YOUth: Perspectives of Singapore and China". Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, Baey Yam Keng, is the guest of honour for the Youth Forum.

Chairman of Business China, Lee Yi Shyan says: "China is developing rapidly in all the important areas - technology, market and society. It is set to become the world's largest economy. Business China's Inaugural Youth Forum aims to provide the latest updates on the new China to our youths. We also hope that by bringing young leaders together, they will build on our existing ties and cultivate new friendships that will sustain us into the future".

Organised by the Business China Youth Chapter, the Youth Forum will feature key speakers like Jane Sun Jie, chief executive officer of; Tina Zhao, vice-president of ByteDance and Malone-Lee Lai Choo, director of the Centre for Sustainable Asian Cities. They will speak on topics like "The World in 2030: How do we envision our world to be like?" and "How can advocacy translate into action?"

Tin Pei Ling, chief executive officer of Business China tells The Business Times in an interview that the theme of FCGF 2019 will address the critical question surrounding China and most of the regional countries on how to maintain sustainable growth for the countries economically, environmentally and technologically amid the global geopolitical complexities.

"Regional experiences can be drawn, best models can be explored, and innovative solutions can be deployed for the future sustainable growth for China, Singapore and the world. In this context, it is worthwhile to explore how Singapore's strengths can be best leveraged and how Singapore can capture the next wave of sustainable growth, together with China, in a highly competitive and challenging geopolitical world, while avoiding social pitfalls."

At the same time, there is a growing clustering of economic zones into super economic clusters to drive the next phase of economic activities in China, such as the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area.

With the Greater Bay Area as a special focus, FCGF 2019 will also explore how new super economic clusters can maintain long-term sustainability through new business models, financial tools, technology innovation and technopreneurial drive. The forum will also discuss how this new super-cluster interacts with the other clusters and bring real economic values to China, Ms Tin adds.

The Business China CEO says that the FCGF helps Singapore businesses tremendously as it is a neutral and credible platform to enable relevant business parties to understand the latest issues concerning China from different perspectives and leverage Business China's extensive network to explore international business opportunities.

"FCGF congregates senior-level China experts from across the public and private sectors, and academia and from all over the world to share insights, experiences and analyses in highly interactive formats of discussion. Through their sharing, business executives, senior government leaders and personalities can gain insider knowledge on China, especially on the latest developments and opportunities.

"This is critical in helping Singapore companies deepen their understanding of China's evolvement and enabling them to do business with - and in - China more successfully. It fulfils an ever-growing acute need for an integrated picture of what to expect from China as a business partner, as an economic power and as a new geopolitical giant. This facilitates companies from Singapore, China and the region to reach a mutual understanding when embarking on partnerships," she adds.

Sharing the thinking behind the launch of the Business China Youth Forum, Ms Tin says that Business China aims to nurture Singapore-China savvy talents and build networks of high quality and credibility between Singapore and China.

"Through the Business China Youth Forum, we aim to equip Singaporean youths with multi-faceted views and insights towards issues concerning China and youth of China. The Business China Youth Forum is also a platform to bring young leaders from Singapore and China together, in hope of them building on our existing ties and forge new relationships that will bring about a sustainable future in bilateral business and economic cooperation."

Turning to the Business China Awards (BCA), Ms Tin says that they are highly prestigious. "Held biennially, and in conjunction with FCGF this year, BCA aims to honour outstanding businessmen, entrepreneurs, professionals and organisations for their successes and contributions to Singapore-China relations as well as strengthening of bilingualism and biculturalism in Singapore.

"Recognising companies and individuals through BCA will encourage more to become role models exhibiting sustained efforts to deepen bilateral relations and achieve far-reaching impact in their various fields. These industry veterans in different disciplines provide good and relevant insights, while inspiring others to contribute to Singapore-China business ties."

Ms Tin highlights that renowned personalities from China who were recognised through the BCA awards in the past are now part of the judging panel for BCA 2019. Their representation further cements the role of BCA in helping to grow and strengthen Singapore-China business ties.

These renowned personalities are Chen Deming, standing committee member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and president, Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) as well as former minister for commerce, People's Republic of China and Li Rong Rong, vice-chairman, China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE). Mr Li is also the founding chairman, China State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC) (2003 - 2010).

Looking ahead, the Business China CEO says that Singapore and China will continue to strengthen their "comprehensive collaborations and deepen the ties that we have shared over the decades. Investment and collaboration opportunities are expected not just in China but also to 'go out' together".

At the government-to-government (G2G) level, Singapore and China have a number of successful projects together - Suzhou Industrial Park, Tianjin Eco-city, and Chongqing Connectivity Initiative. Guangzhou Knowledge City was also upgraded to state-level last year, signalling its significance and potential.

More opportunities

Says Ms Tin: "As Singapore companies go global, these are attractive fast growing destination options. Even under the ambit of these G2G or state-level projects, there is potential for innovation to create even more opportunities. For instance, the Southern Transport Corridor (STC) spun off from the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative. Among the many merits, the STC significantly shortened the time to transport goods and enabled seamless rail-sea connections between China and Asean through Singapore. To transport goods between Chongqing and Singapore, for example, the time needed now through STC is a third of what it used to be without STC."

Singapore was one of the earliest to support the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). As China "walks out" to go global, Singapore will be an invaluable partner of high credibility to do so. Underscoring this is the MOU on third-party markets along the Belt and Road signed last year. Singapore's strengths as a key infrastructure, legal and financial hub in the region will add value to Chinese companies expanding into Asean along the belt and road, she adds.

Courtesy of The Business Times, 22 May 2019.