WHEN Li Rongrong visited Singapore with then Premier Zhu Rongji in 1999, he was inspired by the Republic's model of good governance. The trip made a lasting impression, and when Mr Li was appointed chairman of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC) in 2003, his first overseas stop was in Singapore to study the operations of Temasek Holdings.
The SASAC is responsible for managing China's state-owned enterprises. He noted then that the way Temasek manages its stable of government-linked companies is "a good reference for China and worthy of study".
INTERACTION AND PARTNERSHIP
Mr Li, 71, stayed as the head of the SASAC till 2010, during which time the number of SOEs was reduced from 196 to 123 through listings, divestments and mergers. The total value of these state enterprises also increased from 7 trillion yuan in 2002 to 24 trillion yuan in 2010, with profits increasing from 241 billion yuan to 1.14 trillion yuan. The number of SOEs listed in the Fortune 500 companies also rose from six in 2003 to 30 in 2009.
In particular, he was a strong supporter of interaction and partnership between SASAC and Singapore companies, and led many visits to the Republic to learn from the experiences with Temasek Holdings. From 2004 to 2008, around 2,800 of these leaders and government officials from China have also been to Singapore on learning trips.
For his achievements in deepening ties between Singapore and China, Mr Li was honoured with the Business China Excellence Award at this year's Business China Awards (BCA) 2015.
"Mr Li and his team's frequent visits to Singapore deepened ties between China and Singapore, where the SASAC and various Chinese government agencies learnt from and interacted with Temasek Holdings," BCA said in a citation for the award.
"The in-depth interaction between both parties enhanced mutual understanding and trust between Singapore and China, creating a positive environment for a sustainable long-term partnership."
Since 2005, the SASAC-Temasek Directors Forum has been held twice a year in Singapore. At each forum, SOE board members and executives will conduct discussions and site visits with Temasek and its portfolio companies. Eighteen forums have taken place since 2013.
His efforts to forge closer ties between China and Singapore while at the SASAC also resulted in the establishment of the Stewardship & Corporate Governance Centre (now known as the Stewardship Asia Centre) by Temasek Holdings.