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Thursday, February 28, 2019

IT’S BUSINESS AS USUAL WITH CHINA DESPITE STALLED MEGA PROJECTS – KIAN MING

MALAYSIA remains welcoming of Chinese investments despite a spate of stalled negotiations over several Beijing-backed mega projects such as the multibillion-dollar East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Ong Kian Ming told the South China Morning Post.
In an interview in Hong Kong where he is attending The Economist’s Asia Trade Summit, the Bangi MP said total trade volume between Malaysia and China reached a record high of US$108.6 billion (RM442 billion) last year, sealing the importance of bilateral ties between the two countries.
“(We can expect) more opportunities to expand our trading and investment relationship with China, and this will continue to set the tone that Malaysia is very welcoming of investments from China,” Ong was quoted as saying.
“If this can be reciprocated by the Chinese government, it would give confidence to Chinese investors that despite the change in government, we are still very open for business and still want to attract good-quality Chinese investment to come to Malaysia.”
However, ties between the two countries were shaken after Pakatan Harapan took over power in May.
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced the cancellation or deferment of several Chinese-backed mega projects, namely the 688km ECRL, on the grounds that they were too expensive and unnecessary.
The rail project, along with other stalled developmental projects, was inked during the Barisan Nasional administration.
Discussions this year have seen the Chinese contractor behind the ECRL project agree to reduce its cost to about RM40 billion from the initial price tag of RM70 billion, which shows “a commitment to resolving” the impasse, said Ong.
“China has been Malaysia’s largest (foreign direct investment) country of origin for the past three years, and we are looking for that to continue in the foreseeable future,” he said.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT

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