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China-Malaysia co-prosperity ties sail ahead

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

11-24-2015 14:22 BJT

By Tom McGregor, CNTV Commentator

Malaysia is playing a more prominent role in Southeast Asia. The nation is developing its hi-tech industry and expanding the Islamic finance sector. Meanwhile, the overall plunge in commodity prices compels the country to shift away from an over-reliance on its natural resources, such as palm oil, timber and coal. 

 

Over the weekend, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak hosted the East Asia Conference in Kuala Lumpur with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in attendance. A few days earlier, PM Razak said Sino-Malaysian ties "are the best period of development" after meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping at the APEC Summit in Manila, Philippines.

China stands out as the largest trading partner for ASEAN. Suhaimi Iliar, chief economist of Malaysia's leading bank, Maybank, told ECNS (English-language China News Service), "China accounts for 15.7 percent of Malaysia's combined value of exports and imports and 14-15 percent of ASEAN trade."

ASEAN base for Chinese companies

More Chinese companies are exploring economic opportunities in Southeast Asia. Malaysia's coastline can serve as a major transit point for shipping routes as multinationals deliver their goods to and from Asia while crossing the Pacific Ocean.

Accordingly, Beijing and Kuala Lumpur have already endorsed RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership), free-trade pact with 10-member ASEAN and six other nations, including China, participating.

The two sides maintain strong trade links, "however, the same is not seen and cannot be said when it comes to investment," said Suhaimi. "China’s investment in the ASEAN region remains relatively low compared with other regional and major economies, but in recent years there's been a rising trend of Chinese investment in Malaysia."

He encourages Chinese companies to consider Malaysia as their base for operations in ASEAN, due to its "strategic position in global trade and maritime routes."

Calling to port: 21st Century Maritime Silk Road

The northern Malaysian coastline faces the South China Sea, which can lure more Chinese companies to the region. Both countries have embarked on joint development projects to upgrade ports in Malaysia, such as the one at Kuantan, Pahang State.

Construction is underway to dig a deeper seaport that could double the current capacity of Kuantan Port, while an industrial park would open nearby.

In 2013, Xi introduced the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative (the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road) to boost trade and investment channels in Asia, Africa and Europe. The strategy is to build more infrastructure in underdeveloped areas of the region to induce smoother networks for transportation, logistics and IT (information technology).

The multi-billion US dollar New Silk Road Fund would offer financing for such projects.

Xiamen University opens satellite campus

The Maritime Silk Road would benefit Malaysia on the education front as well. The Global Post reports that one of China's leading institutes of higher education, Xiamen University (XMU), would open a satellite campus in Bandar Kota Warisen, Selangor State, 45 kilometers southwest of Kuala Lumpur.

The 150-acres campus would have planned floor space of 470,000 sq. M. with total investment of $US400 million.

"XMU was founded by Malaysian-Chinese Tan Kah Kee in 1921," said Xiamen University President. "Now XMU is going to return the favor and build a campus in Malaysia."

Last year, PM Razak attended the ‘stone-laying foundation' that marked the beginning of campus construction. The school is hoping to enroll over 5,000 students from Malaysia, China and throughout the rest of Asia by 2020.

Coast clear for Sino-Malaysian relations

Despite the sluggish global economy, China continues to witness moderate-to-high GDP (gross domestic product) annual growth rates. Chinese companies are going global and setting their sights on Southeast Asia.

Malaysia offers a premium position for sea shipping routes in East Asia and China’s Maritime Silk road would strengthen trade and investment ties between both nations.

Tmcgregorchina@yahoo.com

 

( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )

 

 

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.


 

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