(Kuala Lumpur MCI Sept 5) — Historical ties between Malaysia and China date back centuries. As early as the 15th century, Malaysia was an important stop on the ancient maritime Silk Road. The stories of General Zheng He’s legendary voyages to the South China Sea and Malacca are widely known, and have shaped the positive perceptions of China in the minds of Malaysia’s people. In recent times, Malaysia was among the first countries to embrace the Belt and Road Initiative, and one of the earliest to see the benefits. Under the BRI, cooperation between China and Malaysia has expanded in many fields. The bilateral trade volume has reached US$100 billion a year, and China has been Malaysia’s biggest trading partner for 10 consecutive years. Chinese FDI in Malaysia’s manufacturing sector has grown more than four fold, from US$0.92 billion in 2013 to US$4.75 billion 2018. By the end of 2018, the Chinese companies had invested in some 422 projects in Malaysia’s manufacturing sector, creating around 73,000 jobs for Malaysia.
The China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park and the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park — often referred as “Two Countries – Twin Parks” — are growing rapidly. Projects such as Gemas-Johor Bahru Railway are advancing steadily. The East Coast Rail Link project has just re-launched after friendly talks and a route reconfiguration. CRRC has set up a rolling stock assembly plant in Perak producing electric and diesel-hybrid train sets at the most technologically advanced plant, with the biggest production capacity anywhere in ASEAN. Proton is now well set to return to profitability after just one year of collaborating with China’s Geely Group.
The BRI not only provides strong momentum to China-Malaysia cooperation. It also provides opportunities for ordinary people to realize their dreams. Studies show Chinese companies in Malaysia have provided training opportunities for around 19,000 skilled workers in recent years. The skills of engineers, electricians, even management personnel have improved enormously, providing Malaysians with new opportunities for career advancement. These training programs will continue and expand, allowing more and more Malaysians to write their own success stories.
These tangible results and achievements have helped BRI win the support of the Malaysian government and people, encouraging more people to devote themselves to improving China–Malaysia cooperation under the framework of BRI. I’m glad to see that the Pakatan Harapan government has openly voiced its support for the BRI many times over the past year. During his recent visit to China , Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad praised the BRI as a valuable opportunity to connect the East and the West, and to promote the common development and prosperity in the region and benefit all participating countries.
I hope the honorable prime minister will provide his political wisdom and vision to help push the BRI to higher standards and greater achievements, and draw a brilliant blueprint for our future bilateral cooperation.
There’s a classical Chinese poem that reads: ‘The rising tides have broadened the water, and a boat should raise the sail and catch the wind.’ The Malaysian government is committed to achieving economic transformation, striving for rapid economic growth, and getting on board with the “Industry 4.0” revolution. To this end, China’s experience, advanced technology and funding could just be the wind that Malaysia needs to propel it on its journey. We welcome Malaysia’s participation in the BRI cooperation in a deeper, more comprehensive manner, to fully utilize the country’s unique geographical and resource advantages to achieve better and faster development. I also believe that the BRI will blow a favorable wind to make sure 45-year China-Malaysia relations set sail for a better future featuring stability, mutual trust and prosperity.