"Same Bed, Different Dreams": The China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park (A)
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In February 1994, top officials from China and Singapore signed a landmark partnership agreement to develop a massive new industrial park and residential community in the city of Suzhou in China. The ambitious project, modeled after Singapore's highly successful industrial-residential parks, would provide not only jobs for hundreds of thousands of people, but homes and community facilities as well. The agreement between the partners also called for a "software transfer," in which Singapore would share its highly-touted expertise in managing economic development with its Chinese partners. The China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park (CS-SIP) enjoyed the support of the highest levels of government in both nations. But the joint venture soon foundered, as CS-SIP ran into problems and fell short of its goals. The harmonious partnership between likeminded nations that their leaders envisioned did not materialize. Singaporeans accused local authorities of undermining the project, while Suzhou officials criticized the Singaporeans for taking their complaints to Beijing instead of dealing directly with them. After five years of disappointing results, Singapore pulled back from CS-SIP, dramatically reducing its share in the partnership. This case tells the story of CS-SIP in two parts: Part A describes the project and outlines the hopes both nations invested in it, as well as the potential snags that could derail it; Part B details the problems that led to a falling out between the partners. Both parts can be assigned together, or Part B can serve as a sequel to be read after classroom discussion of Part A.
The case is suited for discussion of international development issues, in particular, the difficulties of doing institutional transfers across national boundaries.
- Case Author:
- Esther Scott
- Faculty Lead:
- John Thomas
- Pages (incl. exhibits):
- China, Singapore