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Singapore Involved in Park Plan for Island
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Singapore has been invited to develop China's fifth largest island as an industrial park catering to Northeast Asia, government sources disclosed yesterday.


The 252-square-kilometer Changxing Island, off the coast of the northeastern city of Dalian, is seen as being strategically located to allow expansion into the regional market.


Li Keqiang, Party secretary of Liaoning Province, first put forward the proposal in a meeting with Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew earlier this year. Both Liaoning and Singapore listed it as the top subject for discussion during the annual meeting of the Singapore-Liaoning Economic and Trade Council at the end of last month.


Yi Qingtao, deputy director of the administrative committee of Changxing Island industrial development zone, provided detailed suggestions for cooperation during the meeting.


"We encourage senior professionals from Singapore to join the administrative committee and share their advanced experience with us," said Yi.


Changxing is open for Singapore in all industries from infrastructure construction and education, to environmental protection, he added.


"My bottom line is there is no bottom line. It is OK to even appoint a Singaporean to be our committee chief," said Yi.


Senior officials from Singapore have expressed great interest in the project. Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Singapore's minister for education and second minister for finance, said: "Singapore is glad to have the chance to develop Changxing in both the short and long-term."


Earlier this year, Dalian municipal government chose Singapore-based JTC Corporation to make a regulatory plan of a 20 million yuan (US$2.5 million) industrial zone on the island. This was seen as the signal for the cooperation.


JTC helped design Suzhou Industrial Park in 1994.


But Yi emphasized that Changxing was different from Suzhou.


"Times are different now. We have the full support from government in terms of capital and some experience after a decade's opening up," said Yi.


"What we need most now is not investment, but professionals who are familiar with international practice. We want to work with them and learn from them in daily work."


The local government is still in talks with Singapore over the project, but Yi declined to give more details.


(China Daily July 14, 2006)

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