Photo Credit: New Straits Times
Economy, Investment and Trade
Alibaba Group opened first electronic world trade platform (eWTP) hub in Malaysia
(18 June 2018) Alibaba Group founder and executive chairman Jack Ma is optimistic about China-Malaysia ties especially in e-commerce development after the group opened its first electronic world trade platform (eWTP) hub in Malaysia. Ma believes that the new Malaysian government will carry on with its open policy on foreign investments in order to create business value and job opportunities for its citizens. Ma said that he was inspired by Malaysia’s Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), which was inaugurated in 1996 by Malaysian prime minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. Since November 2017, Alibaba Group has implemented various initiatives in Malaysia including Alibaba’s first regional e-fulfillment hub, Alibaba Cloud’s internet data centre and the introduction of “Malaysia Week”, an online promotion plan for Chinese consumers to buy Malaysian products. According to Ma, China president Xi Jinping announced that the country’s global import would reach US$8 billion in the next five years and such a scenario would change the global trade map.
Malaysia’s bilateral trade with China is expected to surpass US$100 billion in 2018
(18 June 2018) According to China’s ambassador to Malaysia Bai Tian, Malaysia and China’s bilateral trade is expected to surpass US$100 billion in 2018. In 2017, bilateral trade between both countries reached US$98 billion and in the first five months of 2018, bilateral trade between both nations was at US$42.7 billion, a 14.7 percent increase compared to the same period in 2017. Current imports from China to Malaysia is worth US$18 million and current exports to China is US$25 billion. Bai Tian believes that if the momentum continues, trade between both nations will exceed US$100 billion. Just a week after the 14th General Elections, which took place in Malaysia on 9 May 2018, three Chinese companies have invested US$300 million (RM1.2 billion) in the country.
Distrust in government policy and perceived Chinese bullying lead to illegal demonstrations
(19 June 2018) Thousands of people held illegal demonstrations in cities across Vietnam due to proposed Van Don, Bac Van Phong and Phu Quoc economic zones for foreigners. The protests took place due to fears that it could be the first step for Chinese business invasion in the country even though the proposal for the economic zone had no mention of China. Factors that led to the demonstration include perceived Chinese bullying and lack of confidence in Vietnam’s Communist Party to do anything about it. The protests have seen the National Assembly delaying its vote on the economic zones until October 2018. Security was tightened to prevent protests in major cities, but thousands still demonstrated in central Ha Tinh province. The matter is being taken seriously by China and the Chinese embassy in Vietnam was informed that the situation was misinterpreted by people with ulterior motives.
Chinese firm completes main construction work of Laos’ longest bridge
(15 June 2018) According to China Railway No. 2 Engineering Group (CREC-2), the main construction work of the longest bridge in Laos along the China-Laos railway in Nam Khone has been completed. The Chinese construction firm completed the concrete casting of the last bridge pier of the Nam Khone super major bridge on 14 June 2018. The total length of the bridge is 7.5km and has 230 bridge piers, in which the highest pier is 10.5 meters. The China-Laos railway, which 414km long, is one of the interconnectivity projects under China’s Belt and Road Initiative. China-Laos railway is expected to start operations in December 2021.
China gives Cambodia additional military funding worth US$130 million
(19 June 2018) China announced that Cambodia’s armed forces have been granted additional military funding worth US$130 million to develop Cambodia’s military capabilities. China also pledged to establish a stronger mutual relationship with Cambodia, especially in the military sector. According to Cambodian’s Defence Ministry, Chinese military will continue its regional joint military exercises and Cambodia will also host the Chinese navy for an experience sharing session with the Cambodian naval forces. Cambodia’s military said it has reformed over the years due to China’s support. The military has requested China to supply tactical and military accessories for counter-terrorism special forces in 2019 and also provide equipment and machinery to clear 17,000 hectares of land in Kampot province, which will be used as a training ground for live-fire drills.