QUESTION:

Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong: To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs whether ASEAN currently has any plans to execute a multi-lateral approach in engaging with China's One Belt One Road initiative to complement existing country-specific, bilateral approaches.

REPLY:

China's Belt and Road (B&R) initiative is significant as it has the potential to enhance connectivity and accelerate infrastructure development across the whole of Asia. Singapore was an early supporter of the initiative. Our third Government-to-Government project with China, the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative, is a key priority demonstration project under the B&R initiative. China Foreign Minister Wang Yi and I have also agreed for our two countries to jointly establish three platforms under the B&R initiative to enhance (i) connectivity; (ii) cooperation on financial services; and (iii) third party collaboration in human capital development.

At the regional level, China's non-financial Overseas Direct Investment into ASEAN economies has more than doubled from 2008, reaching US$7.8 billion in 2014. Asia is expected to need US$26 trillion of investment between now and 2030 to develop power, utilities, telecommunications and transportation infrastructure. In this regard, demand for infrastructure in the region is huge.

There is thus potential for the B&R initiative to complement and support existing multilateral and regional projects, including those in ASEAN. The B&R initiative and the Master Plan for ASEAN Connectivity 2025 reflect a convergence of interests between ASEAN and China. As such, ASEAN is keen to explore possible synergies, including how the B&R initiative can complement ASEAN's development plans, and vice versa, to maximise the results of our cooperation. As Country Coordinator for ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations until August 2018, Singapore is actively consulting both ASEAN Member States and China on how this will feature in our plans for the future development of the ASEAN-China strategic partnership.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore