|New Mode of International Cooperation,Opens a New Chapter
in Reform and Opening-up
| Late Chinese
leader Deng Xiaoping visited Singapore in November 1978 shortly before
the 3rd Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee of the Party.
He was greatly impressed by the beautiful, clean, and dynamic garden
city, especially its urban construction and the Build-To-Order (BTO)
system. During his southern inspection tour in 1992 (January 18 to
February 21), he said: "Singapore's social order is rather good.
Its leaders exercise strict management. We should learn from their
experience, and we should do a better job than they do."
The experience of Singapore in building up the country provided a
role model for China's reform and opening-up, and promoted and resulted
in the launching of Suzhou Industrial Park through China-Singapore
cooperation, which subsequently create a brand-new mode of Sino-foreign
economic and technological cooperation of mutual benefit.
| It took the Chinese government
14 years from the implementation of the policy of reform and opening
up in 1978 to the decision on joining hands with Singapore in launching
Suzhou Industrial Park.
In December 1978, the 3rd Plenary Session of the 11th Party Central
Committee made a significant decision on reform and opening up. In
1980, China set up four special economic zones in Shenzhen, Zhuhai,
Shantou, and Xiamen. The application of some preferential policies
then gradually expanded to Hainan Province, Shanghai Pudong, the areas
along the Yangtze River and the coastal areas, as well as a series
of inland cities. As a result, by the late 1980s, the multi-tier and
all-directional opening-up pattern including both coastal and inland
areas from the east to the middle and the west had taken shaped in
But during the process of attracting capital, advanced technologies,
and management experience from foreign countries, China also took
in some corrupt Western ideas and lifestyle with corrosive and damaging
effect upon the Chinese society. Some leaders and people failed to
see clearly the propriety of reform and opening-up policy, and some
even debated on which to follow, socialism or capitalism. Then Deng
Xiaoping, known as the general designer of China's reform and opening-up,
gave his firm and inspiring answer to the question. When you open
the window, he said, you'll let in air as well as flies and mosquitoes,
but there are ways to handle this. He turned his eyes once again to
Singapore, the small garden city in the South Pacific.
Deng visited Singapore
in November 1978 shortly before the 3rd Plenary Session of the 11th
Party Central Committee. At that time, 13 years after its founding,
Singapore had achieved initial prosperity based on its advantageous
conditions of the world's sea transport hub and export-oriented economy.
Jurong Town in close vicinity of a harbor, once a wasteland and a
mash, was built into a five-square-kilometer industrial township with
adequate infrastructure developed through large-scale land development
by using foreign capital, as well as a series of modern factories
including three large oil refineries, iron & steel, petrochemical,
and ship-building facilities. In introducing capital, technologies,
and professionals from foreign countries to realize rapid economic
growth, Singapore managed to shut the door to possible negative impacts
from the Western world and to maintain national cohesion, ethnic harmony,
social stability, and cultural dignity.
Lee Kuan Yew, the Prime Minister of Singapore at the time, introduced
to Deng Xiaoping in detail the development of the country, its opening
policy, and various measures for attracting foreign investment. The
Chinese leader was greatly interested in the achievements of Singapore
and impressed by the beautiful and clean garden city, especially its
urban construction and BTO system. Since then, Chinese socialist construction
has been closely related to Singaporean experience.
In 1988, China faced the problems of overheated economic growth and
inflation. Deng admitted it to the visiting Lee that China was short
of experience in reform but said China could learn things from others,
such as Singapore.
Deng toured the southern areas including Wuchang, Shenzhen, Zhuhai,
and Shanghai during January 18 through February 21 in 1992 and made
a series of important speeches on reform and opening up. When talking
about the "four dragons" in Asia and the socialism with Chinese characteristics,
Deng said: "we should not only aspire for economic prosperity but
also maintain good social order and public conduct. We should overpass
them in building both material and ethical civilizations and that
is the socialism with Chinese characteristics. Singapore's social
order is rather good. Its leaders exercise strict management. We should
learn from their experience, and we do an even better job." His speeches
got active response among Singaporean leaders.
The visionary speech pointed out the right direction of China's reform
and opening-up and had far-reaching significance. Singapore serves
as a valuable role model in the sense that the country developed its
economy with foreign capital but at the same time successfully avoided
the negative Western impacts. To reinforce the tie with Singapore
would reassure those with doubts on reforms and at the same time break
the sanction imposed on China by Western world so as to develop socialist
market economy. The farseeing national strategy and complicated international
background made the founding of China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial
Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew visited Suzhou at the end of September
1992 and said before concluding his visit in China on October 8 that
the two countries would find a place in Suzhou to develop a model
project with Singapore experience for other Chinese cities and towns.
The proposals made by the state leaders of both countries eventually
led to the founding of Suzhou Industrial Park.
Fortune favors the prepared mind. With the support from the central
government, both Suzhou and Jiangsu Province tried their best in preparing
for the project.
On August 18, 1993, Suzhou Municipal Government submitted to the provincial
government the Request for Learning Singaporean Experience and Management
Software in Suzhou. The document elaborated on the four aspects of
the significance of learning from Singapore, the city's advantages,
the organization plan, and the ways of learning.
On October 17, 1993, a State Council delegation composed of nine administrative
authorities including the Special Zone Office of the State Council,
Ministry of Public Security, Legislative Affairs Office of the State
Council, Land and Resources Bureau, and Ministry of Construction arrived
in Singapore for a 12-day visit and investigation. The delegation
visited over 20 government offices and statutory bodies and had a
comprehensive understanding on the development and administration
of the country.
From October 18 through 26, Jiangsu provincial government sent a delegation
to Singapore and signed with Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry
the MOU on Singapore Government Agencies Providing software of Singapore
in Economic and Public Administration to Suzhou Municipality, according
to which the two sides reached agreement on developing Suzhou Industrial
Park with Singaporean experience. On December 26, the provincial government
submitted to the State Council the Project Proposal on Suzhou Industrial
Park, analyzing the economy and public administration experience of
Singapore and listing the learning contents for a start.
On December 26, 1993, the Special Zone Office of the State Council
sent to the State Council an Investigation Report on Singapore and
Suzhou Municipality Jointly Developing an Industrial Park and Transferring
On February 11, 1994, the State Council issued the Reply on Several
Issues Concerning the Development and Construction of Suzhou Industrial
Park, approving in principle "learning and absorbing independently
and selectively the applicable experience of Singapore in economic
and public administration in Suzhou Industrial Park.
The strategic decision made with a big picture in mind reflects the
vision of the central government in taking comprehensive consideration
of both domestic and international situations as well as the courage
of emancipating the mind.
At that time, Singapore had great confidence in the project. On February
22, 1994, Lee Kuan Yew told a reporter from Xinhua News Agency that
he believed China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park would have a good
prospect and they would transfer the economic administration software
to SIP. In answer to the question of why Suzhou, he said the city
was located in the developed Yangtze River Delta Area close to the
regional leader of Shanghai and therefore enjoyed a favorable environment
for economic growth.
On February 26, 1994, China and Singapore officially signed in Beijing
the Agreement on Joint Development of Suzhou Industrial Park. On the
same day, Suzhou Municipal Government and Singapore Jurong Town Corporation
signed the Agreement on Learning and Using Singapore's Experience
in Economic and Public Administration.
Lee Kuan Yew told the journalists that day that the project had his
full support and that he was optimistic about it, for with the support
from the leaders of both countries, there was no reason why it wouldn't
The great journey of Suzhou Industrial Park thus started.