Need for measured response to China's policy change: PM Lee

PM Lee at a dinner to celebrate the Business China Awards last night. With him are Business China chairman Chua Thian Poh (on his right) and Mr Liang Baohua (on his left), a former secretary of the Jiangsu Provincial Committee of China's Communist Party.

CHINA's development will inevitably be an uneven process, so the rest of the world needs to take a measured response and not react to every twist and turn of policy, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Wednesday night.

PM Lee told a gathering at the Resorts World Convention Centre that "we should not be caught up with short-term sentiments... we should step back and take a long-term view".

He cited the initial disappointment of political watchers and market analysts at the communique released after the Communist Party's Third Plenum earlier this month.

The country's top leaders had met to set the policy agenda over the next nine years, but analysts "felt that the communique was vague and leaders were not committed to reforms", said Mr Lee, who was speaking at a dinner to celebrate the Business China Awards.

But when detailed reform plans were released a few days later, sentiment turned - "analysts changed their minds and praised (the Chinese leadership)", he added.

Mr Lee, who spoke in English and Mandarin, was addressing more than 600 members and stakeholders of Business China, which promotes economic and cultural ties between Singapore and China.

It was launched in 2007 by former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and then Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. PM Lee was appointed the new patron on Wednesday night, succeeding his father in the role.

He said that although China faces complex economic and social challenges, the outlook is optimistic as its people are "driven" and its leaders "clear-minded... and committed to reforms".

The next stage will not be easy, but China has overcome "similarly difficult challenges in the past" - such as restructuring its state-owned enterprises and preparing to enter the World Trade Organisation, he said.

PM Lee also had a message for Singapore companies in China, noting that they need to ensure their products and services anticipate the evolving demands of the Chinese market while training staff to understand China's language, customs and traditions.

Business China chairman Chua Thian Poh said Mr Lee has been "leading by example", having made 13 official visits to China since his appointment as deputy prime minister in 1990.

PM Lee also presented three awards on Wednesday night, conferred by Business China and OCBC Bank to honour individuals and enterprises for their work in strengthening Singapore-China relations and promoting bilingualism and biculturalism in Singapore.

One went to Mr Liang Baohua, 68, a former secretary of the Jiangsu Provincial Committee of China's Communist Party and best known for his role as the nation's representative in developing Suzhou Industrial Park.

Another went to Lianhe Zaobao, a Singapore Press Holdings' daily. It turns 90 this year, making it one of the world's longest-surviving Chinese newspapers.

The chief executive of shoe retailer Charles & Keith, Mr Charles Wong, 39, took the third award. The firm has opened 63 stores across China in cities such as Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.

chiaym@sph.com.sg


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