Photo Credit: Reuters
Economy, Investment and Trade
China pledges more aid and investment to Cambodia
(22 January 2019) China’s pledge of US$588 million in aid to Cambodia from 2019 to 2021 were among the highlights of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s official visit to China. Other highlights, which were posted on the Prime Minister’s Facebook page, include China’s promise to import 400,000 tonnes of rice from Cambodia and push bilateral trade between the two countries to reach US$10 billion by 2023. China’s Foreign Ministry later released a statement saying that during the meeting, President Xi Jinping had expressed his interest in intensifying economic cooperation with Cambodia, and expediting the alignment of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with Cambodia’s development strategy.
Chinese ambassador pushes for greater tourism cooperation between ASEAN Plus Three members
(18 January 2019) The Chinese ambassador to Vietnam made several recommendations on the way forward for ASEAN Plus Three (APT) tourism cooperation during the 18th Meeting of APT Tourism Ministers held on January 18 in Quang Ninh, Vietnam. ASEAN Plus Three is a forum composed of the 10 members of ASEAN, alongside China, South Korea, and Japan. Among the recommendations put forward were continued implementation of the APT Cooperation Work Plan 2018-2020, strengthening the sharing of best practices in using tourism for economic development, and adhering to the people-oriented principle through the sharing of data, expertise and resources. The Chinese ambassador also noted that the number of visitors from ASEAN countries to China in the first three quarters of 2018 saw a year-on-year increase of 21.4%, reaching 18.8 million. Further, the number of Chinese visitors to ASEAN countries crossed the 25 million mark in 2018 with a year-on-year rise of 20.4%.
Rise in number of Chinese students enrolling in Thai universities
(18 January 2019) 8,455 Chinese students enrolled in Thai universities in 2017, doubling the number of enrolments made in 2012, according to Thai government data. According to analysts, there are around 30,000 Chinese students in total currently enrolled in the country, most of which originate from rural provinces in southern China. These students move to Thailand in hopes of escaping the highly competitive but relatively poor education back home in China, and landing well-paying jobs in Thailand after graduation. An undergraduate business degree costs up to US$3,700 per year in Thailand, while it can range from US$8,000 in Singapore to US$60,000 per year in the US for the same degree. This greater affordability, coupled with friendlier visa regulations compared to countries like the US, are considered the key factors in the rise of Chinese enrolments in Thai universities in recent years. It was reported that Thai universities currently make twice the amount of tuition fees from Chinese tourists compared to locals.
Malaysia first Asian country outside China to initiate Alibaba Netpreneur Training Program
(18 January 2019) The education arm of Alibaba Group has selected Malaysia for its inaugural Alibaba Netpreneur Training Program, organized in collaboration with various Malaysian government agencies under the ongoing eWTP (electronic world trade platform) initiative in Malaysia. This makes Malaysia the first Asian country outside China to initiate the program. The 10-day program, held in Alibaba’s headquarters in Hangzhou, China, aims to equip Malaysian entrepreneurs and businesses in tackling the many challenges they face while adapting to digital era. The Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) applauded the program saying that it was yet another important step forward in “broadening the opportunities for Malaysian businesses and entrepreneurs to reap the benefits offered by the tremendous continued growth of eCommerce and the digital economy.”
China-Myanmar border trade dips dramatically
(19 January 2019) Border trade between China and Myanmar fell by US$562 million in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to Burmese state media. The publication attributed the decline to stricter border trade regulations imposed by China (including the suspension of certain agricultural imports from Myanmar), as well as the closure of a major trading post near Muse in Shan State. Nevertheless, the dip in border trade is unlikely to affect the planned China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC). According to the report, border trade in the fourth quarter of 2018 at Muse itself totaled US$1 billion, while Lweje recorded US$43.4 million, Chinshwehaw recorded US$163.6 million, Kanpiketee recorded US$28 million and Mong La-Kengtung recorded US$1 million.