[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Friday, October 12, 2007

[Pearl River Delta]
1. My last visit to the Pearl River Delta was in 1992, a few months after the famous southern tour by Deng Xiaoping. The explosive growth in China had just started and I can still remember the explosions I heard then at night as the Chinese blew up hills to clear land for development.

2. After 15 years, the transformation is dramatic. The delta has become one contiguous urban conurbation with a huge economy, a factory of the world. As I crossed the Humen bridge from Nansha to Dongguan, I thought of how China had changed since the destruction of British opium by Lin Zexu at Humen (which led to the Opium War and the ceding of Hongkong to the British).

3. I was at Nansha at the invitation of the HK Peihua Education Foundation to speak at its 25th anniverary forum. Not long after Deng put China on a new course of reform and opening up, a group of Hongkong businessmen decided to give time and money to help the Mainland. The trustees who turned up were some of HK's most important business leaders - Lee Sau Kee, Cheng Yu Tung, Walter Kwok, Ian Fok (son of Henry Fok) among others. Ian recalled how his father built the first toll bridges in the delta which led to thousands being built thereafter. His father also objected strongly to Chinese not being allowed into the White Swan Hotel. After the humiliation of the concession days when Chinese and dogs were denied entry into public parks, he felt that it was wrong to have a similar policy in modern China.

4. I spoke on the subject: Can China emerge peacefully? Deng wanted China to keep a low profile but China is too big for that now. The challenge is for China to become a 'responsible stakeholder in the global system' and for the major powers to admit China into their club. It won't be easy and the stakes are very high.

5. I am now in Shenzhen which looks much better than when I was last here some years ago. There are many beautiful buildings. The city leaders readily admit that the lush landscaping was an idea learnt from Singapore. A few months ago, the Mayor, Xu Zongheng, led a big delegation to study various aspects of Singapore's development including the preservation of our mangrove patch at Sg Buloh. The city is flushed with revenue and can become one of the world's great cities. Singapore has had more impact on Chinese mayors than most Singaporeans realize. When Deng asked the Chinese people to learn from Singapore in 1992, they took his call seriously.

Do also read my posts on Beyond SG


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