Top-level support 'vital' for Tianjin Eco-City

CHINA - The success of a joint project to build a model green city in coastal Tianjin depends on high-level support from China and Singapore, said visiting Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong as he met top Tianjin leader Sun Chunlan.

It was the first time Mr Goh met Madam Sun, 63, who was Fujian party chief before being named to the Tianjin job last November. In a 45-minute meeting yesterday at the Tianjin State Guesthouse, they reviewed the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City (TEC), the second bilateral project after the Suzhou Industrial Park.

Following discussions between Mr Goh and former Chinese premier Wen Jiabao, the Eco-City broke ground in September 2008 and aims to be a beacon for green living, eventually hosting 350,000 residents. "Both of us in a sense created this baby called the Tianjin Eco-City. This baby is now five years old. So naturally as a father, I want to see how the baby is growing," Mr Goh told Madam Sun.

Homes and offices set against green landscapes have risen out of barren land in five years, with nearly 4,000 residents in the city as of June. But property cooling measures have affected sales of its homes and the city faces competition for high-tech investments from nearby developments.

Mr Goh and Madam Sun on Saturday reviewed the challenges facing the Eco-City but also affirmed it "had made good progress since its inception", said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement.

They expressed confidence that the city can be a model for green growth, sustainable development and harmonious living, which can be replicated in other cities in China as directed by President Xi Jinping, the MFA added. Mr Xi had mentioned this when he visited the Eco-City in May.

"They agreed that continued high-level support from both sides is important to ensure the TEC's progress and success, which would in turn contribute to the development and progress of Tianjin and other parts of China," said MFA. Mr Goh was accompanied on the trip by National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan and his predecessor, Mr Mah Bow Tan, as well as Senior Parliamentary Secretary Sam Tan (Foreign Affairs and Culture, Community and Youth).

Madam Sun, a member of the elite 25-man Politburo, thanked Mr Goh yesterday for his contribution to the Eco-City, noting it was his fourth visit to Tianjin.

"Senior Minister, you're a good friend and an old friend of the people of Tianjin," she said. Mr Goh in turn invited her to visit Singapore.

He was hosted to lunch by Tianjin Mayor Huang Xingguo before visiting the city's Dongjiang Port area. Mr Goh will speak at the fourth China (Binhai Tianjin) International Eco-City Forum and Expo before visiting the Eco-City on Sunday.

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