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SIP: Blazing the trail for modern industrial parks

By Song Wenwei and Zhou Furong in Suzhou( China Daily )

Updated: 2012-07-05

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SIP: Blazing the trail for modern industrial parks

Suzhou Industrial Park is virtually a new modern city in itself. Photo Provided to China Daily

Jointly developed by the Chinese and Singaporean governments, the 18-year old park is now a successful example of international cooperation that serves as a model for other development zones in China.

The years of construction and development have made the industrial park in the east of Suzhou a virtual new city in itself.

"In fact, SIP has all the functions of a city though it is called an industrial park. It has contributed enormously to the socioeconomic development of Suzhou," Yang said.

"From the very beginning, the Singaporean model was strictly followed, which has proven to be crucial to our development," said Yang, adding that SIP was from the very beginning designed as comprehensive facility with all the functions of a city.

Integral to the SIP model are well-planned and sited factories, residential areas and infrastructure - the hallmarks of Singapore's renowned efficiency.

Greater efficiency with a leaner administrative structure has also helped in the success.

"The 400-strong SIP administrative committee is a very efficient working mechanism that shoulders the tasks normally done by a staff of 2,000," Yang said.

It has fewer departments than a traditional government body. High work efficiency is one of the key criteria in worker recruitment.

Professional management

As a joint international project expected to lead the way in socioeconomic development, SIP also has some specially authorized powers to manage its affairs.

For example, SIP has the right to appropriate land use and approve project planning, functions normally under the provincial government.

"The special powers we are trusted with has helped a lot in the fast growth of SIP," Yang said. "The operation has been smooth and successful and we have used the power properly because there is always a close supervision."

SIP has a huge demand for professionals, especially those with an international view.

During the systematic transformation of major industrial sectors in SIP, technical personnel were the main target of recruitment.

Over the years, many returned overseas Chinese scholars and experts have come to work in such industries as electronics, machinery, biomedicine, nanotechnology, converged communications, animation and environmental protection.

High-tech companies they have founded include BioBay, Suzhou GenePharma and Nano-Micro Technology.

The companies have contributed enormously to the revenues generated at SIP and created employment opportunities for a large work force.

Yet technical professionals are only part of international approach.

"In a way, the internationalization of managing personnel or management professionals is as important as or even more important than attracting technical professionals," said Yang.

Yang himself is a good example in this respect.

With a master's degree in automation control from Nanjing Aeronautical and Aerospace University and a PhD in management science and engineering from Xi'an Jiaotong University, Yang has worked at various departments and took office as director of the SIP administrative committee in 2008.

During this time, he studied at the renowned Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and earned his MBA from the National University of Singapore. The experiences broadened his views of modern management.

In fact, most of the park's management team has received education or training overseas and put what they learned into their work.

Growing together

SIP has become a model in China for urban management and economic development.

To make use of the SIP model to benefit other parts of the country, a training center has been set up for professionals at other development zones.

"I think this is a very good way to progress together because people can learn the management experience of Singapore here at SIP without going abroad," Yang said.

SIP is also using its experience to cooperate with other areas to grow together.

It has started joint projects with Nantong and Suqian, two cities in north Jiangsu, and cities in other provinces.

"We have based our cooperation on the SIP model, but with modifications adapted to local conditions," Yang said.

"While helping others, we also learn something which will aid our future development," he said.

As the area is growing into a city, SIP has blazed a new trail for social management practices.

Apart from the permanent local residents, the park has a large community of migrants who have come from all over the country to seek work opportunities and a better life.

"It is a tough task to manage well this new social mode, but we are trying new ways of management of the over 100 communities in SIP to achieve a harmonious existence," Yang said.

Looking into the future, he is confident that SIP will reach a higher level of modernization with more reform measures and innovation in all the social and economic areas.

You may contact the writers at songwenwei@chinadaily.com.cn and zhoufurong@chinadaily.com.cn.

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