Replicating the SIP model in China

Replicating the SIP model in China
Factory director Yang Bin (above left) said his listed firm invested in the Suzhou-Chuzhou industrial park for its “Singapore-style” pro-business ways.

CHINA - "Build as we plan" is how it is done in most of China's industrial parks and what Anhui official Wu Bin did too when he headed the Langya Economic Development Zone in Chuzhou city.

But the lack of urban planning led to wastage of public resources, such as a newly built, 30 million yuan (S$6.2 million) road junction that had to be removed to make way for a multi-billionyuan automotive plant.

Now, after working in the Suzhou-Chuzhou Modern Industrial Park (SCP) since 2012, Mr Wu sees the importance of urban planning through his role as the project's deputy head overseeing infrastructure development.

The SCP - a joint project of the SinoSingapore Suzhou Industrial Park's (SIP) venture firm and the Chuzhou government - has spent 30 million yuan on 22 urban planning studies on areas such as roads, electricity generation and recreation zones, he said.

"I now have a new understanding of how things should be done," said the Chuzhou native.

Mr Wu's change shows how the SIP is fulfilling its long-term goal of sharing Singapore's industrialisation expertise and "software" across China.

SIP's joint venture firm, China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park Development Group (CSSD), began doing so with two projects in Jiangsu province: Suqian-Suzhou Industrial Park in 2007 and Suzhou-Nantong Science and Technology Park in 2009.

The SCP, which broke ground in April 2012, is the CSSD's first venture outside Jiangsu, and key traits of the SIP could be seen in the 36 sq km park when The Straits Times visited recently.

For instance, it is near Chuzhou city's old district, just like how the SIP is next to Suzhou city's old town.

Mr Tang Yanzhe, president of the CSSD subsidiary that holds a 56 per cent stake in the SCP, said proximity is important in ensuring a readily available pool of workers and residents.

This makes it appealing to enterprises setting up factories or property projects.

So far, the SCP, which has attracted 38 firms investing 1.7 billion yuan, has received rave reviews. Many investors cite its Singapore link and the SIP reputation as reasons for moving there.

Mr Yang Bin, factory director for Chuzhou Jinfu Credit and Technology, which makes optical display films among other things, said it did not look further than the SCP as it had been operating in the SIP since 2003 and was happy with the "Singapore-style" pro-business treatment there.

The SCP's geographical advantage is a key factor. It is linked by high-speed rail to Beijing, four hours away, and Shanghai, 90 minutes away.

The CSSD plans to explore more opportunities like the SCP, said Mr Tang. "Also, we have the expertise to meet a need in the market," he added.

This article was first published on October 25, 2014.
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