The Belt and Road Initiative aims to connect Asia, Europe and Africa along five routes. The Silk Road Economic Belt focusses on: (1) linking China to Europe through Central Asia and Russia; (2) connecting China with the Middle East through Central Asia; and (3) bringing together China and Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Indian Ocean. The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, meanwhile, focusses on using Chinese coastal ports to: (4) link China with Europe through the South China Sea and Indian Ocean; and (5) connect China with the South Pacific Ocean through the South China Sea.
Focussing on the above five routes, the Belt and Road will take advantage of international transport routes as well as core cities and key ports to further strengthen collaboration and build six international economic co-operation corridors. These have been identified as the New Eurasia Land Bridge, China-Mongolia-Russia, China-Central Asia-West Asia, China-Indochina Peninsula, China-Pakistan, and Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar.
As one can readily see from the above, it has nothing to do with what Malaysia’s RM 55 Billion East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) project.
Clearly, the ECRL is not intended by the Chinese to be some sort of link that China will put traffic through, after it so generously “gifts” that project it to to Malaysia:
CHINA will provide RM55bil in soft loans to Malaysia for the construction of the planned East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) that is estimated to cost a similar amount, according to Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
In an exclusive interview in Beijing with The Star yesterday, Liow said this will be one of the 16 government-to-government memoranda of understanding to be signed when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak meets with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang for bilateral talks today.
Apart from financing, the two countries will also sign an engineering-and-construction contract on the project.
This means China will carry out the detailed engineering and design of the ECRL, procure all materials and equipment, and deliver the facility to Malaysia.
“As far as I know, this is the biggest single deal Malaysia will be signing with China,” said Liow, who has worked very hard to obtain China’s investments in ports, aviation and railways since he took over the transport portfolio in June 2014.
On the terms of the soft loans to be given by China’s EXIM Bank, Liow said rates are very competitive and repayment is over 20 years.
“And in the first seven years Malaysia will not have to pay anything – interest and repayment.