SINGAPORE (Sept 28): While China is expanding its influence across the region with the Belt and Road Initiative, companies in Singapore are beating a path to Chongqing, where the Belt meets the Road.

The latest link to the city is the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI) established three years ago which encourages Singapore businesses to set up in the western reaches of China.

It is the third government-to-government (G2G) project and is aimed at driving growth in the less-developed western region of China, home to one-third of the country’s population.

Singapore is also among the top investors in Chongqing. As at March, companies in Chongqing raised $5.3 billion in cross-border financing deals with Singapore.

Trade between the two cities has grown 5.2% each year and annual direct investment rose threefold to RMB22.2 billion ($4.4 billion) between 2012 and 2017.

However, the push into Chongqing comes as China’s broader BRI, which involves ambitious and expensive infrastructure projects, has been beset by controversy and criticism.

One-third of BRI projects, worth US$419 billion, have reportedly run into problems — and many of these projects have left host countries in debt.

Are Singapore entrepreneurs bound for Chongqing convinced the risks outweigh the rewards? Or are they jumping on the Chongqing bandwagon for fear of missing out?

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