From 27 May to 5 June 2011, nineteen members from AAS, Xin Sheng Poets Society, Tianjin Association (Singapore) and the Singapore Institute of Planners, went on a business and cultural mission to Tianjin and Beijing. It was led by AAS President Mr Loh Hoon Sun who is also an Honorary President of the Xin Sheng Poets Society.
Through the good offices of Ms Chen Liping, President of the Tianjin Association (Singapore), the Tianjin Provincial Government invited our delegation to the Opening Ceremony of The18th China Tianjin Investment & Trade Fair and The 7th PECC International Trade & Investment Expo on 28 May 2011 at the Tianjin Meijiang Convention Centre. The next day, Expo Organising Committee Chairman, Mr Wang Wenhua, who is the Vice-Chairman of the Tianjin Municipal Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, hosted lunch for our delegation at the Ocean Hotel.
Ms Chen and her Tianjin office staff also helped co-ordinate our official itinerary in Tianjin. We were very impressed by the ongoing developments and massive projects when we visited the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City at the Tianjin Binhai New Area, Dongjiang Free Trade Port Zone and the various Tianjin Planning Galleries. We also visited the worksites of the Wetland Century and Seasons Park, a Keppel Development.
Besides the official visits, we had time for shopping at the Cultural Village, an evening river cruise down Hai He, visits to the Zhou Enlai and Deng Yingchao Memorial, and Li Shutong Memorial Hall as well as climbing the Tianjin section of the Great Wall. It was a memorable 5-day Tianjin stay, thanks to Ms Chen and our local guides, Mr Wang Peng and Ms Luyan.
On the 6th day, we set off for Beijing on the bullet train. Travelling at a peak speed of 320 kmph, we reached Beijing in only half an hour. Steeped in history and culture, Beijing has advanced rapidly with many of its old buildings being replaced by impressive modern architecture. Highlights of our stay included touring the Forbidden City, Tian’anmen Square, Summer Palace, Ming Tombs, Jingshan and Behai Parks and the Olympic (Bird’s Nest) Stadium. We also managed to watch two live shows, Zhang Yimou’s spectacular ‘Golden Mask’ and an Ice Acrobatic (on skates) performance. Any visit to Beijing would not be complete without climbing the Chang Chern (Great Wall). We did just that!
Members of the delegation from the four associations met as strangers at Changi Airport on the evening of the departure for the trip. We parted as friends at the end of the whole tour. Everyone had an enjoyable and memorable experience and some have made arrangements for a return trip to China together while others have found travelling partners for future trips. We are glad to be part of this interesting adventure.