The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and
China officially launched
the ASEAN-China Year of Innovation on 12 April 2018 in Beijing, China.
Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National
Development, Dr Koh Poh Koon, represented Singapore at the launch ceremony
hosted by PRC Minister of Science and Technology Wang Zhigang. Representatives
from the other ASEAN Member States were also in attendance.
ASEAN and China established dialogue partner relations in
1991. Since then, China has become one of ASEAN’s most substantive dialogue
partners. In 2016, ASEAN and China commemorated the 25th Anniversary of
ASEANChina Dialogue Relations. This year, both sides will be celebrating 15
years of ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership.
Over the past three years, to enhance cooperation and
further advance relations, ASEAN and China have designated a theme for
ASEAN-China cooperation for each year. In 2016, ASEAN and China commemorated the
Year of Educational Exchanges and 2017 was designated the Year of Tourism
In line with Singapore’s ASEAN Chairmanship themes of
Resilience and Innovation, ASEAN and China agreed to designate 2018 as the
ASEAN-China Year of Innovation.
At the launch ceremony, SMS Koh delivered a speech
which included a congratulatory message from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. In his message, PM Lee highlighted that Singapore
will continue to play a constructive role to promote ASEAN-China cooperation as
ASEAN Chair and country coordinator for ASEAN-China dialogue relations this
PM Lee talked about dealing with the opportunities and
challenges of technological disruption across multiple domains – from science
& technology, education, digitalisation, to enterprise and entrepreneurship
and said that this is an issue where ASEAN and China have many shared interests
The Singapore PM also noted in his message that both ASEAN
and China are home to a vibrant ecosystem of start-ups, technology companies
and solution providers. ASEAN’s digital economy is projected
to exceed US$200 billion in 2025, while China is one of the innovation and
technology powerhouses in the world today. China houses
the world’s second largest group of unicorns , and is among
the top three countries for venture capital investment in digital technologies.
In his speech, SMS Koh outlined several several ASEAN initiatives related to
innovation in which ASEAN can cooperate with China.
ASEAN is currently pursuing an ASEAN Agreement on
e-Commerce, which will advance trade rules in eCommerce and build up greater
digital connectivity, to facilitate e-Commerce flows in the region. It will
provide a platform for aspiring entrepreneurs, startups and Micro, Small and
Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to market their products and services regionally,
while making it easier for them to send and receive electronic payments. This
is an area where ASEAN can benefit from China’s experience and success, with a
view towards strengthening and facilitating ASEAN-China trade flows.
ASEAN Member States have nominated a total of 26 pilot
cities for the ASCN. This is envisaged as an inclusive platform for ASEAN
cities to share best practices, develop city-specific action plans, and
catalyse bankable projects in partnership with the private sector and ASEAN’s
external partners, including China.
Singapore is working on an ASEAN Innovation Network. This
network seeks to strengthen the linkages between innovation ecosystems in ASEAN
Member States to spark new collaborations and solutions, which can address the
demand from an increasingly sophisticated and growing consumer base in the
Dr Koh welcomed China’s involvement and cooperation
in the area of Innovation, including the sharing of experiences and best
practices, which will help bolster the innovation ecosystem in Asia.
"In the Year of Innovation, I would like to encourage both sides to
step up cooperation in practical initiatives that will bring tangible benefits to our
people, allow ASEAN and China to tap on new opportunities in the digital
economy, and reinforce our value proposition to our global partners. Through
sustained effort, ASEAN and China can work together to build a competitive,
resilient and innovative region that anchors our relevance on the global stage," Dr Koh concluded.
 Unicorns are
startups valued at over US$1 billion.