When the first spade hit the ground at the 30 sq km Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city, Tianjin became the toast of the strategic partnership between China and Singapore, setting in motion their joint goal of ensuring a sustainable future for the city.
Along with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Singaporean Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong attended the groundbreaking ceremony yesterday on the sidelines of the 2008 Summer Davos held in Tianjin.
"With the target to build a model city under the 'three harmonies' principle of people-people, people-environment and people-economy, the eco-city shows the determination of the two countries to tackle global warming, strengthen environment protection and energy conservation," Tianjin Mayor Huang Xingguo said.
Forty kilometers from downtown Tianjin and 150 km from Beijing, the eco-city will rise from saline land and be guided by Singapore's prowess in solar and wind power, as well as its rain recycling expertise.
"However, the eco-city is not just meant to be a pleasant residential township. It must be integrated with environmentally friendly economic activities," Goh emphasized when talking with Tianjin Party chief Zhang Gaoli last week.
"After 10 to 15 years of construction work, Tianjin eco-city will stand out among the eco-cites all around China for its green growth," Goh said.
The eco-city will help Tianjin lead a new type of urban green development, Huang added.
So far, the remarkable 3.91 sq km initial construction work has been implemented since July 1 this year, which included construction of a modern highway system, pipeline network and telecommunication facilities, according to Zhang Yanfa, vice-chairman of Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city Administrative Committee.
At the same time, four companies in energy, construction, municipal administration and environment protection have been set up under joint supervision of China and Singapore.
Construction of commercial buildings will kick off next year. All buildings will use a comprehensive system of renewable-energy technologies. "It is still a challenge for us to finish all the 17 specific works for the whole project by this year," Zhang added.
After the groundbreaking ceremony, the two countries will step up joint efforts to develop the supporting policies and software for the project, Goh Chye Boon, CEO of the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city Investment and Development Co Ltd, told China Daily during the Annual Meeting of the New Champions.
"It is undergoing rapid progress. We hope to translate all the concepts into Tianjin's future development," he said.