We watched a 63-minute Davos forum to see if Chan Chun Sing did S’pore proud

Chan held his own among the distinguished panel at World Economic Forum.

Martino Tan | January 25, 2018 @ 07:21 pm


Chan Chun Sing was one of the two key ministers to represent Singapore at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.

Potential PM flies S’pore flag at prestigious 2018 World Economic Forum at Davos

At a six-member WEF dialogue yesterday, Chan offered his views on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a development strategy by China’s President Xi Jinping to focus on the connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries.

Chan opened by saying that “Singapore welcomes the belt and road initiative”, adding that “Singapore is very happy to participate in this project”.

BRI an “important historical opportunity” for China

This is the second time that a 4G leader has made major remarks in public on Singapore’s bilateral relations with China.

Finance minister Heng Swee Keat was in China last November visiting Suzhou and Beijing.

During the trip, Heng delivered a speech titled, “Singapore-China Relationship: Enduring Ties, New Partnerships for a Better Future”, in Beijing at the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management (Nov. 25).

Heng Swee Keat might become our point man for S’pore-China relations in future

At the BRI dialogue at Davos, Chan said that Singapore is already playing an important role in the BRI and has been working very closely with Chinese agencies and said that Chinese officials often reminded their Singapore counterparts of the “33-85” figure.

As a financial hub, 33 percent of all outward investments related to the BRI flows through Singapore, while 85 percent of inbound investments for the initiative makes its way into China through Singapore.

Chan welcomed China’s role in building a better system for the world. He said:

“This is an important historical opportunity for China to convince the rest of the world that actually its actions have a broader perspective of not just an immediate commercial gain to itself, or just to catalyse the local economy in the medium term.

But more importantly, over the longer term, China is helping the world to build a better system that allows the world to participate in the next phase of growth for the world economy.”

A different side of Chan

Screenshot from WEF.

It is an unfamiliar image of the Labour Chief, as many are used to seeing him in polo t-shirt and pants greeting workers.

Source: Chan Chun Sing Facebook.

Nevertheless, Chan more than held his own in a distinguished panel that included the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) president Jin Liqun, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and business leaders from the United States, China and Russia.

Jin was clearly the stand-out speaker from the panel, with Chan coming in second in terms of air-time.

Unlike some other speakers in the panel, Chan spoke without notes.

Chan also used a simple Mandarin phrase, “yi de fu ren“, to connect with the audience, as it was a phrase mentioned by President Xi Jinping in his well-received speech at Davos last year.

Chan said that this must be the philosophy of the China-led BRI.

Chan urged China to use its power and capacity to “win the trust and confidence of the world”, and show the world that it wants to be a global power that is “inclusive” and “forward-looking”.

Finally, the panellists were asked for one word or phrase that will help BRI project win trust, confidence, and support locally.

So, Chan concluded with an analogy for the Chinese leadership:

“If we are just focused on the short-term, the here and now, then I think we might miss the picture.

It’s just like the brick-layer. Is he laying a brick? Or is he building a wall? Or is he building a cathedral?

And I think the Chinese leadership had the wisdom to know which level of aspirations they are going for.”

Related article:

Potential PM flies S’pore flag at prestigious 2018 World Economic Forum at Davos

You can watch the full video here:

Top photo from here

About Martino Tan

Martino’s parents named him after an Italian priest, Vatican's 1st ambassador to S’pore. He's inspired by the lives of Robert Kennedy & Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the words of George Orwell & William F. Buckley Jr., & the music of the Beatles.

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