After a period of slowdown, the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP) is picking up steam and expected to attract almost 20 billion ringgit (US$4.8 billion) in investments, a senior Malaysian trade official said on Friday, in a further sign of strengthening economic ties after the stalled East Coast Rail Link project resumed progress in April. “Enquiries have been coming in at a significantly higher rate,” deputy international trade and industry minister Ong Kian Ming said after chairing a meeting with Malaysian and Chinese trade officials, although he did not specify figures. “We hope the further development of these twin parks will increase the level of economic cooperation between China and Malaysia , which is already at a very high level,” he said, noting that the partnership came against the backdrop of the US-China trade war . Mahathir faces backlash over rail link race quota Malaysia could potentially benefit from the trade war by attracting more Chinese investors, thanks to its strategic location in Southeast Asia, Ong said. Commenting on the trade war, Li Chenggang, China’s assistant minister of commerce, said unilateralism “doesn’t benefit anybody”. “We believe in open, win-win situations. The Chinese economy is developing on a very stable basis and is in good form,” Li said, adding that all the impact and pressure from the trade conflict were “controllable”. The MCKIP, located in Pahang state on Malaysia’s east coast, is one-half of the Malaysia-China Twin Parks project – the sister site being the China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park in China’s southern Guangxi region. It spans 3,500 acres and will leverage off proximity to the recently-expanded Kuantan Port. Observers believe the MCKIP will bring much-needed foreign direct investment (FDI) to Malaysia’s east coast, and the escalating trade war will lure Chinese manufacturers to relocate factories in an attempt to divert exports. On Huawei, Malaysia is not bowing to China. It’s standing up to US bully Unlike the ECRL megaproject – which was put on hold by the new Pakatan Harapan government last year because of concerns over cost – or the Beijing-backed gas pipelines which got the axe, the industrial park was never in real risk of government suspension, says Ngeow Chow Bing, a China-Malaysia expert from University Malaya. “The contracting and financing models are very different, and after an initial period of uncertainty, the new government is quick to recognise the benefits, both potential and realised, brought about by the project, and has no objections,” Ngeow said. “The aim of the industrial park is to draw in greater FDI, and the clearer the signs that the government of Malaysia supports the park, the greater confidence Chinese investors will have in Malaysia.” Mahathir backs Huawei, snubbing US blacklist The restarting of the ECRL after months of uncertainty, too, has improved Chinese investor confidence, he said. The MCKIP is currently home to a 5.6 billion ringgit modern integrated steel plant that is already operational, and will soon welcome a tyre company. An expected 20,000 jobs are expected to be created by the industrial park’s projects. Meanwhile, at a separate event, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng underlined the importance of opening doors to Chinese manufacturers at a time when the global supply chain was undergoing significant reorientation due to the China-US trade war . “Malaysia has been benefiting from business relocation, as well as trade and investment diversions caused by the trade war,” said the minister during a signing ceremony for a joint venture between PowerChina Group and local property developer EcoWorld, adding that despite the benefits, Malaysia hoped for an amicable end to the dispute. China is Malaysia’s largest trading partner, followed by Singapore . In 2018, total Malaysia-China goods trade was valued at 313.8 billion ringgit, an 8.1 per cent increase from 290.4 billion ringgit in 2017.