Dr M’s BRI approval heightens interest from China
Tun Dr Mahathir

by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN/ pic by TMR

PRIME Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s nod of approval for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has resulted in a surge of interest from Chinese investors, said Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Dr Ong Kian Ming.

Investors from China appear reassured of Malaysia’s bilateral position with Beijing following Dr Mahathir’s visit to the country in April and his recent backing of Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd amid allegations of cyber espionage.

The 93-year-old leader had previously taken a hard-hitting stance against China as the country pushed back several mega projects backed by the latter’s state-owned firms. Dr Mahathir’s trip to Beijing has since seen the revival of the East Coast Rail Link and Bandar Malaysia.

Ong did not provide figures for the uptick but said there has been a significant uptake of Chinese corporates who have expressed interest to invest in Malaysia.

He said this after co-chairing the 4th joint cooperation council (JCC) meeting on the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP) and the China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park (CMQIP) in Kuala Lumpur earlier today. China’s Assistant Minister of Commerce Li Chenggang was his co-chair.

“We hope the further development of these twin parks will increase the level of economic cooperation between Malaysia and China which is already at a high level,” Ong said.

“I am confident that China will be the top investor in Malaysia for the fourth straight year this year.”

During the meeting, Malaysia and China exchanged development progress at the twin parks as well as at the Kuantan Port and Qinzhou Port.

The MCKIP, which spans across a total land size of 3,500 acres (1,416ha) or 14.2km², currently has 10 committed projects on site with a total investment of over RM18 billion.

Apart from Alliance Steel (M) Sdn Bhd, Chinese tyre manufacturer Tracmax Tyre Co Ltd has also set up its plant at MCKIP which will be officiated tomorrow. The plant will be the largest tyre production base in Malaysia.

As for Kuantan Port, its annual handling capacity will be doubled to 52 million tonnes when the second phase of the port’s new deep-water terminal is completed. The first-phase of the deep-water terminal commenced operation in the fourth quarter (4Q) of last year.

The CMQIP based in Qinzhou city, China, on the other hand, sits on a total developed area of 22km². The park currently has over 360 registered enterprises and 42 key industrial projects with a total investment amounting to RM38.75 billion.

Investments that have materialised and are operational include the China-Malaysia International Science and Technology Park, the Electronic Information Industry Park, the Smart Interconnection Industrial Park and the National Bird’s Nest Laboratory.

Li said corporations from China have committed to an “In Malaysia, For Malaysia” investment approach for the MCKIP, promising job opportunities and local content in all its ventures.

It was concluded that the development of the twin parks is an exemplary collaboration will reinforce the significance of Kuantan and Qinzhou on the global map of the 21st century Maritime Silk Road. The 5th JCC meeting is expected to be held in China in 1Q20.