China, like all nations, benefits when it opens itself to experiences from other parts of the world. So it is good that it continues sending officials abroad to broaden their experience. However, it is interesting that Singapore, smaller than many mainland cities, is a favoured destination. Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen also raised eyebrows during a visit to Singapore in 2006 when he said he wanted to gain insight into how it groomed politicians, and learn from its bureaucracy. An authoritarian nation long ruled by one political party, Singapore hardly appears an ideal model for a city moving towards full democracy, or, as a tiny city-state, one that offers an abundance of lessons for a country the size of China. When it comes to corruption, international surveys do rank Singapore among the cleanest in the world. That is worth some study. But it is hard to see how the 10,000 mainland officials who have studied economics and administration at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University have made any difference to the endemic corruption that plagues the mainland. The preference for Singapore originated in different times as China was just opening up when Deng Xiaoping cited it as an example of a dynamic economy with a stable social and political order. It is not surprising why it remains a preferred place for further education of Chinese cadres destined for further advancement. China does also sponsor officials for training in robust democracies, including the United States. But there is just as good a place - if not better - for training much closer to home. Hong Kong offers not just a well-trained civil service, but also transparency and accountability reinforced by a robust media under the rule of law guaranteeing personal freedoms and rights for all. The dispatch of mainland officials to Hong Kong for training would touch a sensitive nerve at this stage under 'one country, two systems'. But hopefully, if it ever comes to pass, it will reflect more progress towards more democratic political development in both places.