The Straits Times

Young people's perspectives, energy valuable in strengthening Singapore-China ties: Josephine Teo

11 Oct 2019

SINGAPORE - Young people have great value in providing fresh perspectives and energy, and these strengths can be key in understanding and fostering Singapore-China relations, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo on Friday (Oct 11).

It is important to acknowledge the rapid change that China undergoes, and multiple perspectives - economic, political and cultural - have to be considered to really understand how the country functions and best engage with it, she noted.

Mrs Teo, who is also Second Minister for Home Affairs, was speaking at a dialogue held as part of Business China Youth Chapter's (BCYC) 10th anniversary celebration.

"We have to keep reminding ourselves that every single day, there's a part of this experience, there is a part of this knowledge that is no longer relevant," she said, referring to how China's dynamism means that Singapore needs to adapt and learn quickly as well.

"We have to have the sense of humility to be open to new knowledge and new experiences, and who better to give us these fresh perspectives than the youths?"

"If you can marry the experience and the knowledge with the new perspectives, I think you have a better chance of being (savvy in Singapore-China relations)."

During the dialogue, which was conducted in Mandarin and English and moderated by BCYC founding member Chang Ziqian, Mrs Teo also addressed questions about the perspectives that young Singaporeans can take in approaching Singapore's relations in South-east Asia as well as how society can develop without leaving people behind.

Responding to a question about whether it is important for Singaporean youth to understand not just China, but South-east Asia as well, Mrs Teo said: "If Singapore companies want to achieve global success, they need to know the region."

She added that if companies in South-east Asia work together regardless of which country they are from, the chances of them achieving success will be much higher.

As long as we work hard in building our knowledge of the region, there will always be opportunities for development, and this is why we have always emphasised cooperation within the region, Mrs Teo said.

Around 260 people, including young people, business leaders and academics from Singapore and China, attended the event held at Raffles Town Club.

BCYC has about 200 members and seeks to facilitate understanding of China among young Singaporeans, as well as cultivate a China-ready workforce through market immersion opportunities.

It is supported by Business China, which was launched in 2007 to encourage the use of the Chinese language and to develop a cultural and economic bridge between the world and China.

Business China launched a scholarship programme on Friday that will offer young Singaporeans opportunities to attend summer programmes at reputable Chinese universities such as Tsinghua and Peking.

A total of $200,000 has been raised so far to kick-start the programme.

Business China also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry to strengthen the collaboration between the two organisations to develop Singaporean youths' understanding of China's business culture and economy.