Chairman of Business China, Mr Chua Thian Poh;
Interim Dean of Nanyang Business School, Professor Gillian Yeo;
Ladies & gentlemen,
1. It gives me great pleasure to be here today at the Commencement Ceremony of the 2nd Future China Advanced Leaders Programme. I am indeed very pleased and heartened to be in the companies of men and women who are not just outstanding in each of their respective expertise, but who have also sharpened their keen sense of China-savviness through their journey in this unique programme, and are ready to embrace the dawn of the Asian century, in particular, the rise of China. My heartiest congratulations to the 20 graduates, who would be commencing on their journey to further understand and connect with China.
2. For more than 2 centuries now, western economies have led and driven the world's economic development. But now, Asia is catching up. Amidst the current global economic gloom, Asia – especially China – with its recent rebound in economic growth, may be the most promising engine to power a global recovery. China, currently the world’s second largest economy, is projected to overtake the US to become the world’s largest in the year 2017, which is just 4 years from now.
3. Last year, China was Singapore’s 3rd largest trading partner, with a total volume of S$103.8 billion. Singapore was China’s sixth largest direct investment destination. The first two months of this year saw China’s outbound investments soared to new heights and this trend is set to continue. This means that China will continue to increase its portfolio of foreign investments.
4. It is critical that Singapore continues to be the choice destination for investors around the world, including those from China. The ability to effectively engage with these countries with a workforce that is highly skilled, creative and competitive is an essential consideration for these foreign investors. As a small country, Singapore thrives and prospers by being relevant to others in the global geo-political economy. Against the backdrop of an increasingly globalised China; and the west who are also brushing up on their China knowhow, we have to continue to reinvent ourselves in order to stay competitive and relevant.
5. One way is to learn from knowledgeable experts. Singapore’s Founding Prime Minister and Patron of Business China, Mr Lee Kuan Yew once said, “You must not overlook the importance of discussions with knowledgeable people…because in a short exchange, you can abstract from somebody who has immense knowledge and experience the essence of what he had gained.” The Future China Advanced Leaders Programme, I believe, provided ample platforms for such well-distilled essence to be shared, by putting together some of the best slates of experts, thought and opinion leaders on China issues in the programme.
6. Co-organised by the Nanyang Business School and Business China, the ALP combines the expertise of a highly-regarded institution and the commitment of a well-supported broad-based platform, to present an exceptional programme unmatched by others in depth and breathe.
7. In addition to rigorous classroom sessions that covers the areas of politics, international relations, business culture and social phenomena; the ALP ensures that important avenues for building mutually beneficial networks and interpersonal relationships are structured within the curriculum. Networking lunches and dinners with Business China Board members and Nanyang Business School Alumni were planned so that participants can build and tap on the collective network of a wider bilingual bicultural community in Singapore, as well as in China. And I am very pleased that this friendship culminated in a charitable project initiated by the participants, right after their first week of class.
8. The cohort rallied and raised an impressive 100,000 RMB for a China-based organisation, Bethel, to support visually impaired orphans in China. Each of the 20 graduates in the class will adopt one orphan and pay for some of their general expenses. The orphans will in turn reciprocate by regular letters and updates about their progress and development. I believe this excellent act of bilateral goodwill, though small, will further strengthen ties and add a human dimension to engagements.
9. Ladies and gentlemen, in the spirit of bilingualism, allow me to say a few words in Mandarin.
10. 今天是第二届慧眼中国高级领导研修班的结业典礼。我非常荣幸能够受邀出席这个庄严而意义深远的仪式，而这一届20名顶尖的研修班学员，虽然已经来到了课程的终点，但我相信这才是起点。所谓:“千里之行，始于足下。” 学员们才刚刚要踏上一段深度透视中国，成功与中国接轨的精彩旅程。