The Straits Times - Lee Yi Shyan leads local business execs on China visit

23 April 2013

China and Asia are growing in inter-dependence amid their burgeoning trade links even as regional tensions over disputed territories fester, a group of 20 Singaporean business executives, led by Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Lee Yi Shyan, heard in Beijing.

These participants of the Future China Advanced Leaders Programme, aimed at making Singaporeans more China-savvy, were attending a presentation yesterday by China Foreign Affairs University professor Zhu Liqun on the country's foreign relations.

"China has become the main driver of Asia's economic growth," she said.

Such links, particularly China's US$400 billion (S$495 billion) trade with South-east Asia last year, undergird multilateral relations, despite recent strain as China asserts its sovereignty over islands also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam and Japan.

She later told reporters that Singapore has "played an effective role" in supporting the development of Asean's ties with China.

"I also hope that Singapore will play a role in advancing US-China ties" in the region, she said, without giving details on how Singapore can support the "healthy and stable development of big-power relations" in Asia.

Prof Zhu's talk was part of a week-long programme from yesterday organised by Business China, a platform for nurturing bilingual and bicultural Singaporeans, and Nanyang Business School.

Mr Lee will lead the group to meet high-level officials, including top leaders of central Shaanxi province on Thursday, as well as local businessmen.

The trip also had a charity component this time as the 20 participants raised 100,000 yuan (S$20,000) for Bethel, a China-based organisation that supports the blind as well as visually impaired orphans in the country.

Besides Beijing, the group will also visit the ancient capital city of Xi'an, and also Yan'an city.