Chinese leader was inspired by 'impressive' Changi Airport

Chinese leader was inspired by 'impressive' Changi Airport

Former Chinese leader Zhu Rongji looked up to Singapore as a role model in how it developed its "impressive" Changi Airport, a new book of his speeches reveals.

Mr Zhu, now 85, also admired the Republic for the way it used the provident fund to invest in its public housing scheme, it says.

Mr Zhu served as China's vice-premier and premier between 1991 and 2003 with then President Jiang Zemin. In his foreword to the book, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said this was a time when China overhauled its financial system, lifted tens of millions out of poverty and joined the ranks of the world's largest economies.

In 1992, Mr Zhu noted that his country did not have an airport like Singapore's. His remarks to the Shanghai delegation to the 1992 National People's Congress presaged plans for the development of a world-class airport for Shanghai at Pudong.

Lauding a Japanese suggestion that Shanghai needed a second international airport that should be the largest in Asia, he said: "I've seen the Singapore airport and I find it very impressive. We too ought to have an airport with such advanced management."

Seven years later, the US$1.67 billion Shanghai Pudong International airport was opened. It is now the world's third-busiest airport by cargo traffic and is in the top 20 of the world's busiest passenger airports.

In a 1997 speech on the reform of China's housing system, Mr Zhu also mentioned Singapore when he spoke of improving a provident housing fund.

"Some people say this is taking the path Singapore did," he told a national housing conference.

"Actually first, it isn't entirely the way Singapore does it; second it isn't only Singapore that uses this method; and third, even if it's Singapore's method, what's wrong with that? They have used it effectively."

Titled Zhu Rongji On The Record: The Road To Reform 1991-1997, the book is the first collection of the Chinese leader's speeches, letters and directives.

It is published in English by the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think-tank. Former West German chancellor Helmut Schmidt, who described Mr Zhu as a "far-sighted man of action and an exceptionally gifted statesman", said the book deserves "widespread attention". A second volume is in the works.

vijayan@sph.com.sg


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