Special Report – Belt and Road

MCA seeks closer ties with China

Malaysian Chinese Association goes further by launching Belt and Road 2.0

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 March, 2018, 8:33am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 March, 2018, 8:33am

In 2016, the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) became the first foreign political party to support China’s ambitious “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) global trade strategy.

The formation of the MCA Belt and Road Centre was aimed at helping Malaysian and Chinese entrepreneurs make the most of BRI opportunities by exchanging information and matching businesses for specific projects.

Last month, the MCA – which is part of Malaysia’s ruling Barisan Nasional coalition government – went a step further by launching Belt and Road 2.0, aiming to build on the initial strategy to forge stronger bilateral ties between Malaysia and China.

This is in addition to the MCA Belt and Road Centre in Penang, which was launched in June last year to attract Chinese investment to the state on Malaysia’s west coast.

BRI 2.0 has identified five strategies on which to promote development – business transformation and young start-ups; SME Go-Global; trade and investment promotion platform; Belt and Road policy coordination; and education ­and training. “For MCA Belt and Road 1.0, we laid the foundation, the infrastructure and got the support of the Chinese community and businessmen,” Liow Tiong Lai, president of the MCA, said when announcing the launch. “Seeing the good response, we now push for 2.0. Especially with the new Chinese leadership, there is more commitment to buy more products from the Belt and Road countries. We need to seize these opportunities.”

Present at the launch was China’s ambassador to Malaysia, Bai Tian, who said countries that embrace BRI can share China’s growth in terms of development, progress and prosperity.

Malaysia was one of the first countries to support BRI with major projects such as the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park in the state of Pahang; Melaka Gateway on the west coast; the East Coast Rail Link and the Xiamen University Malaysia.

At a BRI forum in Beijing in May last year, Malaysian companies signed nine memorandums of understanding, mostly trade-based, valued at US$7.22 billion.

Bai estimated that around 70 per cent of staff at China tech company Huawei’s Malaysian unit were local citizens, and that more than 100,000 people have gone through their global training centre in Malaysia.

He said that 83 per cent of staff at China Railway Rolling Stock Corp (M) are Malaysians, adding that 200 local staff have been trained in the country while another 100 will go to China for further training.

“Malaysia and other participating countries stand to benefit from trade exceeding US$210 billion, a figure which will keep increasing,” he was quoted as saying.

Koay Kar Huah, chairman of the MCA People’s Republic of China Affairs Committee in the state of Penang, urged Malaysian SME’s to take advantage of the opportunities presented by BRI.

“China’s dominance will be further strengthened through the B&R Initiative,” Koay said. “Ever since the initiative was launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, it has received tremendous support from 65 countries covering a 4.4 billion population in Asian, European and African continents.

“Malaysia is one of the pioneers in supporting the effort and MCA acts as a promoter by forming the Belt and Road centres in Kuala Lumpur and Penang.”

In his Lunar New Year message, Liow said Malaysia was well on its way to becoming a developed nation thanks, in part, to the country’s involvement in China’s BRI.

“With a myriad of building projects well under way, including upgrading of the country’s transportation infrastructure, we are on track to become a developed nation on the global stage,” he said. “Looking ahead, this year is certainly shaping up to be a prosperous one for the rakyat [citizens].

“The government under Barisan Nasional is focused on catering to the needs and welfare of all Malaysians.”