TIANJIN - The Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City has made good progress but it still has a long way to go, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said as China and Singapore marked the project's fifth anniversary.
The second government-to-government project after the Suzhou Industrial Park, it has won praise for its achievements in sustainable development in just five years, said Mr Goh in a speech at the fourth Binhai Forum and Expo.
Speaking to Singapore reporters later, he conceded that the project could have moved faster in terms of transport links and population growth, but was nevertheless confident that these would come.
"Our population, of course, I think is below what we expected," he said. China's property cooling measures have hurt sales of homes in the Eco-City, which has 4,000 residents though the target was 10,000 by the end of last year.
Mr Goh, who officiated at the opening of a park in the city with Tianjin Vice-Mayor Zong Guoying on Sunday, also eased concerns about China's commitment to the project.
"The political will is there, supported by the Tianjin officials here and by the people in Beijing. For example, President Xi (Jinping) was here. If there's no political will, he wouldn't have come," he said, referring to Mr Xi's visit in May.
Overall, the city, envisioned as a model of sustainable development and home eventually to 350,000 residents, has met most of its five-year targets, he said.
It is on track to becoming the first city in China to offer drinkable water from all its taps and has also been named China's first "national green development demonstration zone", Mr Goh noted.
A community with schools and amenities like restaurants and banks has taken shape in a 3 sq km area of the city, noted Mr Ho Tong Yen, chief executive of the city's master developer. It has also attracted some 1,000 registered firms with capital of more than 70 billion yuan (S$14.5 billion).