By Eileen Poh, Channel NewsAsia
20 Jul 2015
Speaking at the opening of the Future China Global Forum held at the Shangri-La Hotel, Mr Tung Chee Hwa says the Chinese economy has the ingredients for continued growth, including great elasticity, enormous experience and leadership competence.
SINGAPORE: China will be able to maintain a growth rate of 7 per cent over the next few years, according to vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Tung Chee Hwa. The former chief executive of Hong Kong was speaking at the opening plenary of the Future China Global Forum, which was held at the Shangri-La Hotel on Monday (Jul 20).
Mr Tung also said that domestic consumption and the service sector could just be the new driving forces of the Chinese economy, going ahead. He said consumption for the first half of this year would likely reach 60 per cent of the economy, while the service sector already accounts for 49.6 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) today.
The Chinese economy has continued to grow, despite a 6.9 per cent decline in the nation's international trade in the first six months of the year, said Mr Tung. On the other hand, the disposable income of the Chinese has grown by 7.6 percent, after adjusting for inflation, he added.
"Indeed for a number of years, disposable income has been growing at the same level as the GDP, or close," he said.
Mr Tung also noted: "The Chinese economy has great elasticity and potential that gives her a lot of leeway. (Due to) this (and) the enormous experience and competence in the leadership and the trust of people of China, I strongly believe the Chinese economy will continue to grow."
Others who spoke at the session included Indonesia's former trade minister Mari Pangestu and former World Bank chief economist Justin Lin.
Mr Lin said he was confident that investments into China and the nation's consumption rate will help maintain the 7 per cent growth rate in one of the world’s largest economies.
"Export we certainly do not have high hopes because the economies in high-income countries have not fully recovered yet," Mr Lin said at the opening plenary. But the professor at Peking University said good investment opportunities are "still abundant" in China, and so are resources for investment there too.
With investment comes jobs and an increase in consumption rate, Mr Lin added. "If you put these two factors together, I think the foundation to maintain 7 per cent growth is still solid," he said.
About 450 businessmen, officials and academics are expected to attend the two-day forum, which discusses issues on China's developments.
Speaking to the media, CEO of the Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City Chin Phei Chen also offered a word of advice. He said companies looking to venture into China should ride on government-backed platforms to share knowledge and tap on networks of other companies.
"Gone are the days when we look at China as the base for cheap labour, manufacturing and so on. China is becoming the market, the market which creates a lot of potential. China itself, you can say it is a jungle. For many companies, they are either unfamiliar with China, or not sure exactly how to go about doing it," he said.
Mr Chin added: "China indeed is a very big country, (with) many challenges and structural problems. But the ability and determination of the central government to overcome the challenges would set them very differently from other countries.”
The forum is into its sixth run this year. In his keynote address, Mr Tung also paid tribute to Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
"We shall long remember him, not only for his achievements for Singapore, but as a Chinese, for his many efforts to promote the relationship between the two countries, so that people of the two countries and people of the world can benefit," Mr Tung said.
On Monday, Mr Tung also called on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong at the Istana. The Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a press statement that PM Lee and ESM Goh had "fruitful exchanges" with Mr Tung on recent regional and global developments.
China ‘not challenging status quo — it benefits from it’
By Celene Tan
SINGAPORE — China is not seeking to challenge the existing global world order because it benefits from the status quo, said panellists of a forum yesterday on China’s role in the international system.
While some see Beijing as trying to establish a new non-Western world order with its recent initiatives such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the One Belt, One Road project, the region would benefit more from partnering with China to plug infrastructural gaps, the speakers at the FutureChina Global Forum added.
“China has benefited from the international system … (and) has no interest to challenge the existing international system,” said Mr Li Cheng, director of John L Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution, citing the example of China chairing the Group of Twenty (G20) starting this October, and Beijing’s interest in working with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Another panellist, Singapore’s Ambassador-At-Large Professor Tommy Koh, noted that President Xi Jinping had told President Barack Obama during a meeting in the United States in June 2013 that China is not seeking to challenge US’ global leadership, nor is Beijing “trying to evict the US from the Asia-Pacific”.
“What does China want? China wants to be respected by the world as a major power,” said Prof Koh. “China wants a seat at the top table. China wants its influence, its decision-making power in important international organisations such as the IMF, to more accurately reflect China’s rising influence and its capacity to contribute to international governance.” But this does not mean that China will challenge the US recklessly, as America remains the predominant superpower, the 100-odd businessmen and public servants in the audience heard.
Mr Yaseen Anwar, a Pakistani-American banker and senior adviser to the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, said: “I don’t look at China as a challenger to the US; I’d say more as a partner, that’s how it should be.” He also noted that there were many economic benefits to be reaped if the two global powers could work together.
He noted that the South-east Asian region, specifically, the Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) is forecast to be the world’s fourth-largest economic bloc in the next 25 years, but urbanisation in the region stands at only 45 per cent, lower than the international norm of 55 to 65 per cent.
“In the next 25 years, the ASEAN region will become 60 per cent urbanised. Now, (how) in the world are they going to do this? Very simple, you need the infrastructure development,” Mr Anwar said. “And that’s where the One Belt, One Road comes in from China, and the AIIB.”
Fifty-seven countries have signed up as founding members of AIIB, with China being the biggest shareholder with a contribution of US$29.8 billion (S$40.7 billion). This came after Beijing’s announcement last November of a US$40 billion commitment to set up a Silk Road infrastructure fund to pursue its One Belt, One Road strategy, aimed at rejuvenating two ancient trade routes and knitting Eurasia into a single vast market.
Organised by Business China, the 90-minute panel discussion yesterday was titled China As A Challenger And As Part Of The Existing World Order: What Does This Mean For Meeting Global Challenges?
Professor Shen Ding Li, associate dean at Fudan University’s Institute of International Studies, agreed that China was a status-quo power, but took a different view that if China is perceived as a revisionist power, it is only in response to Japan’s actions in challenging the status quo, in an apparent reference to Japan’s Lower House of Parliament having just passed controversial security Bills to expand the role of its military. “It is not that China is challenging (the status quo). Japan changed it. We changed after Japan changed. Our fundamental purpose is prosperity, security and value. No change (to that),” Prof Shen said.
S’pore, China share similar fertility, ageing problems: PM Lee
SINGAPORE — The Republic may have it tough finding a way out of its low fertility rate, but this challenge of an ageing population is an even bigger one for China, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said today (July 21).
Where Singapore can import more labour, China cannot do the same, said Mr Lee when asked at the FutureChina Global Forum held here whether Singapore’s experience in facing this issue could help China.
“Both countries have very different economic conditions, but the same fertility and ageing issues,” he said
“We could be more dependent on foreign labour and immigrants, but China ... already has the world’s largest population. When the population ages, there’s no way to import labour from other countries, so China’s problems are more serious.”
Referring to the 2013 Population White Paper, which projected a population increase of up to 6.9 million by 2030, Mr Lee said the “very strong” reactions from people were expected.
“So, we slow down the foreign intake — we have corrected the policy. But we need to let people know more about our dilemma, that we have this responsibility as the country’s leaders,” he said. “This is a hot potato for the Singapore government, but we’re the leaders, and we hope people will accept that we have good intentions.”
The question of how Singapore can be a learning model for China came up a few times during Mr Lee’s one-hour dialogue session.
And in terms of city governance, he said that both countries could learn from each other, even as each has a different political system.
“The Chinese Communist Party is not only representative of one stratum of society, but it represents multiple strata. If one party can represent multiple groups, it can be conducive for the building of a nation in the long run,” he said.
When asked about cultivating start-up entrepreneurs, Mr Lee said it was easy for a government to remove barriers for start-ups, but that promoting an entrepreneurial spirit — in particular, the inspiration to want to change the world and to want to try again even after failure — was difficult.
He noted, however, that there were many companies in China that aspire to be tomorrow’s Huawei, the Chinese multinational networking and telecommunications equipment and services giant.
Mr Lee concluded with an invitation to Chinese companies to come to Singapore, set up shop and contribute to the entrepreneurial culture here.