The two weeks in 2005 that he spent in Singapore studying how its grassroots organisations are run and how its MPs connect with the people left a deep impression on Mr Zhu Hailun.
"We had to attend classes in the day, have our dinner, and then visit the local communities because your MPs met the people at night," said Mr Zhu, the party boss of Urumqi city in China's western Xinjiang region.
"The trip inspired me greatly on the importance of connecting with the people," he said of his training stint organised by the Chinese Communist Party's organisation department.
Mr Zhu was recounting his experience during a meeting with visiting Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.
He said Singapore's grassroots work is similar to the party's current "mass line outreach" campaign aimed at getting cadres to connect better with the people.
Mr Lee said he was happy to hear that Mr Zhu had enjoyed the stint and hoped that more Xinjiang officials could visit Singapore, as "one of the best ways we can understand each other better is through people exchanges".
But Singapore also wants to exchange experiences with and learn from Xinjiang, he said. As both have diverse demographics, "there's much that we can learn from each other in social management, integration and promoting good relations between various religions and races", he added.
Mr Lee, making his first visit to the western autonomous region, is seeking to understand and explore new areas of bilateral collaboration in China's less-developed regions. One area came up when Mr Zhu said Urumqi is planning to build four special economic zones and is keen to tap Singapore's expertise.