After China accuses US of ‘economic terrorism,’ Malaysian PM Mahathir picks sides in tech cold war
By Asia Times staff
China’s Foreign Ministry doubled down Thursday on its accusation that the United States is engaged in “economic terrorism,” a sentiment that now appears to be winning support in the region.
“This kind of deliberately provoking trade disputes is naked economic terrorism, economic chauvinism, economic bullying,” Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Hanhui told reporters. Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Thursday that he “could not agree more” with Zhang’s remarks.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, whose election last year was seen by many as a rebuke of China’s growing influence in the region, did not hold back in his support of Beijing’s view on this issue.
“‘If I am not ahead, I will ban you, I will send warships’ – that is not competition,” Mahathir said, as quoted by Malaysian newspaper The Star.
Speaking at an event in Tokyo hosted by Nikkei, Mahathir pledged that Malaysia “will make use of [Huawei’s] technology as much as possible,” asserting that the Chinese telecommunications champion had made tremendous advances over US technology.
He added that he was not concerned about US accusations of espionage on the part of Huawei.
The administration of US President Donald Trump placed Huawei on an export-control blacklist several weeks ago, a move that could threaten to slow the company’s ascendance on the global stage.
Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang said in his remarks this week that “this trade clash will have a serious negative effect on global economic development and recovery.”
The sentiment is clearly shared by others in the region, including Mahathir, who was elected in part to provide a check on China’s economic influence in Malaysia through infrastructure projects.
Source: Asia Times “Malaysia pledges to use Huawei ‘as much as possible’”
Note: This is Asia Times’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
Bernama (Updated )
Malaysia will expand its halal services to 10 new countries through China’s US$1 trillion investment – One Belt, One Road (Obor) initiative, says the Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC).
Its vice-president Hanisofian Alias (photo, above) said the new countries include Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Turkmenistan, Iran, Tajikistan and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“Along the Obor route, there are about 10 Muslim-majority countries and we have identified opportunities in these new markets.
“For example, in Kazakhstan and part of Russia, whereby our ministry will be having a joint economic commission meeting (with its Russian counterpart) at the end of this year,” Hanisofian told Bernama during a four-day working visit to the Seoul Food 2019, which began yesterday.
The event was organised by the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (Kotra), a state-funded organisation, which aims at facilitating South Korea’s export-led economic development via various trade promotion activities.
Last March, HDC signed a memorandum of understanding with Kotra, with the strategic aim of enhancing halal bilateral trade and investment exchange, as well as market access for halal products and services between both countries.
Elaborating further, Hanisofian said these countries had been showing a keen interest in their domestic halal industry developments.
“We are expanding into these countries via internationalisation approach based on five main features, namely opening new markets, rebranding, expanding services and products from Malaysia, human resources development and thought leadership, which uses Malaysia as a reference centre for the world’s halal industry,” he said.
He said HDC would also leverage its halal services by exporting more food products to China, home to 1.4 billion people, of which 26 million are Muslims, with its domestic halal market growing by 10 percent per annum.
Last April, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad attended the Obor Summit, which he described as “a very successful trip”.
The international forum was attended by 37 world leaders and 5,000 representatives from 150 countries.
Also in the same month, Malaysia received an injection of RM3.7 billion in palm oil deal, following the revival of the stalled East Coast Rail Link.
Hanisofian also said that apart from new trade collaborations with the 10 countries, the HDC, which falls under the Economic Affairs Ministry, would also be focusing on its cooperation with South Korea.
“In South Korea, we are going to focus on the education sector as well as human capital development, involving cooperation between our local universities and the Korean ones.
“We also see opportunities in the Muslim-friendly hospitality sector, as well as 7sharing expertise in terms of research and development, and innovation,” he said.
Asked about the potential export value for the year, Hanisofian said it was a tad premature to project.
Malaysia’s halal export to South Korea in 2018 was at RM1.28 billion, with three product categories having the highest export values being halal ingredients (RM600 million), food and beverages (RM594 million) and cosmetics and personal care (RM80 million).
Source: malaysiakini.com “M’sia to enter 10 new halal markets via China’s Obor initiative”
Note: This is malaysiakini.com’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
April 30, 2019 14:45 pm +08
MELAKA (April 30): The East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project needs to bring new industries and industrial sector development to the East Coast, which in turn, spurs economic growth that benefits the people, says Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali.
He said if there were no new industries and growth, no cargo to be transported via the ECRL, then there is be no reason to proceed with the project.
“Among the new conditions we laid down was to bring new industries to the East Coast. The ECRL is important if there is industrial growth that can generate economic growth and transfer of industrial cargo to Port Klang,” he said.
Mohamed Azmin said this to reporters after delivering his keynote address titled “People’s Hope Development: A New Malaysia Mechanism or Just a Rebranding?” at the Melaka Berwibawa Seminar in Bandar Hilir, here today.
The two-day seminar, which started yesterday, was officially launched by Melaka Chief Minister Adly Zahari earlier. Also present was Deputy Primary Industries Minister Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar.
It was reported that the ECRL project would be revived and the construction costs for Phase 1 and Phase 2 have now been reduced to RM44 billion from RM65.5 billion.
Mohamed Azmin said the project’s RM21.5 billion savings was not due to the scaling down of its scope and specifications as alleged by several parties, instead they remained unchanged.
“It is still double track and the alignment and distance is about the same. What happened is that we do not allow them to pass through Gombak as there is a dam there and we do not want any problems (to occur). This decision was made when I was the Selangor Menteri Besar.
“We also have the Klang Gates Quartz ridge which was registered with Unesco as the world’s longest quartz ridge and we do not want them to bore through it and construct a RM10 billion tunnel. We’ve saved almost RM10 billion here.
“We are against the abuse of power, corruption and leakages, and we will continue with these practices and principles, including for the Bandar Malaysia project which will be governed by a new development concept,” he added.
Source: theedgemarkets.com “ECRL needs to bring industrial growth to east coast – Azmin”
Note: This is theedgemarkets.com’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
1 May 2019
PORT KLANG, May 1 — The decision to resume the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project is expected to provide comfort to the local residents who have been facing traffic congestion and damage to infrastructure due to container lorries plying the roads in the port town for so long.
Port Klang assemblyman Azmizam Zaman Huri said the realignment of ECRL that focusing on the cargo segment would provide comfort to local residents who had been competing with container lorries on the roads on daily basis for so many years.
“Based on the data I received, there are about 300 transport companies operating here with a total of 8,525 containers lorries, used to transport cargo from two major ports operating here, the West Port and North Port.
“With less number of container lorries (once ECRL completed) here I expect the presence of domestic and foreign tourists will increase as Port Klang has various tourist attractions including floating houses, fishermen and indigenous villages in Pulau Indah,” he said when contacted by Bernama here today.
Earlier this month the government announced ECRL would resume at a lower cost following the signing of supplementary agreement (SA) between Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) and China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC).
The original RM65.5 billion construction cost for Phase 1 and 2 had been reduced to RM44 billion, a reduction of RM21.5 billion.
The new ECRL alignment will run through 20 stations, among others, from Kota Baru to Kuala Terengganu, Kuantan, Mentakab and proceed to Jelebu, Bangi/Kajang, Putrajaya Sentral and onto Port Klang.
Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) chairman Tun Daim Zainuddin said cargo load would bring in more profit to ECRL compared to passenger ridership as the rail link would cut travel time significantly between Port Klang and Kuantan Port.
The cargo load would contribute an estimated 70 per cent to revenue versus 30 per cent for passenger traffic due to its shorter travel time and greater reliability as a mode of transport. — Bernama
Source: Malaymail.com “Less traffic congestion for Port Klang residents once ECRL completed, says MP”
Note: This is Malaymail.com’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
28 Apr 2019
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks with members of the Malaysian media at a press conference after attending the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, Beijing on April 28, 2019. — Bernama
BEIJING: The “One Belt, One Road” (Obor) initiative by China is a joint development plan with participating countries and not a strategy to dominate, according to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He said he now has a clearer perspective of the development plan and supported it as it would benefit the country.
“We feel that the Obor initiative is not a domination plan by China, which would end up being controlled by China.
“Instead, it is a policy developed by all the countries and not only focused on China,” he said.
He said this to reporters at a Malaysian media conference at the end of his five-day visit to China to attend the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF), which ended yesterday.
The international forum was attended by 37 world leaders and 5,000 representatives from 150 countries.
The Prime Minister also said that he had initially thought that the Obor was China’s attempt to dominate Southeast Asia as the trade passage for the project includes the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca.
However, during the forum, Dr Mahathir said he saw that the initiative was a cooperative effort to develop participating countries via infrastructure development and funding from banks.
“Previously, there were other development plans by developed countries to create a world without borders and free trade, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. They (the developed countries) made the proposals and asked us to accept them.
“This is not like that, the forum attendees are from small countries and they are sitting with China which has a 1.4 billion population. They sit together, at the same level, and talk about how to develop infrastructure projects,” he said.
He said the forum was attended by senior leaders from all around the world, including Spain, Italy and Britain, which had sent the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond.
The Prime Minister said the views of the other countries were taken into account in the infrastructure initiative and this was evident in the joint communique issued after the leaders’ roundtable meeting in Yangi Lake yesterday.
“I believe that this was a very successful trip,” he said.
During his visit, Dr Mahathir also met with China’s President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang.
Asked whether Malaysia would be receiving more investments related to the Obor after the forum, he said he hoped that it would happen but said that the country should make it easier for investments to come in from China and other countries.
Meanwhile, Chinese investors have expressed their wish for a one-stop centre (OSC) to be set up to make it easier for investment-related matters, which the Prime Minister has requested to be expedited.
This is because investment-related transactions may be rather complex, involving trips to 20 different places just for approvals, he said, adding that the officer to be in charge of the OSC should also be given the authority to make decisions.
“I am confident that if we do this (set up the OSC), the investments will be pouring in,” he said.
Dr Mahathir and his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah return to Malaysia today. — Bernama
Source: The Sun Daily “Belt and Road Initiative not China’s plan to dominate: Dr Mahathir (Updated)”
Note: This is The Sun Daily’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
Kong See Hoh
07 Apr 2019
FOLLOWING months of negotiations, Malaysia and China have reached an agreement to resume the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project, which was suspended last July.
It will be carried out on a smaller scale, and at a lower cost with some changes to the route, Sin Chew Daily reported today.
The daily learnt that the cost of the project, which was originally tagged at RM66 billion, will be slashed by more than RM10 billion.
A well-placed source told the daily that what the two parties had arrived at was a win-win solution as the re-negotiated project includes new commercial elements, which will bring about greater benefits to local entrepreneurs and people.
It is learnt that an agreement will be signed prior to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s visit to China at the end of this month, marking the resumption of the project.
The source said Council of Eminent Persons chairman Tun Daim Zainuddin, who is representing Malaysia in the negotiations, will fly to Beijing soon to sign the agreement.
Mahathir is scheduled to visit China from April 24 to 28 at the invitation of Chinese premier Xi Jinping to attend the second Belt and Road Initiative summit.
It is understood that Mahathir will address the summit and emphasise Malaysia’s support for the Belt and Road Initiative.
According to the report, environmental considerations are the main reason that changes will be made to the ECRL route.
Source: Sun Daily “BRI Project ECRL to proceed at smaller scale, lower cost”
Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
Malay Mail says in its report “Daim: Govt to finalise ECRL project in early April” yesterday that Tun Daim Zainuddin, Malaysian official in charge of ECRL negotiation with China, said that Malaysian government was expected to finalize the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project in early April with cost savings of more than RM10 billion.
Why so fast to resume the railway project?
A memorandum of understanding on China-Myanmar Economic Corridor was signed between Myanmar and China. One of the two parts of the corridor goes from Ruili China to the port of Kyaukpyu, Myanmar China has already been building. There will certainly a railway from Ruili to Kyaukpyu through Mandalay to make the port useful for Myanmar and China. That will provide China with a shortcut to bypass the Malacca Strait.
As a result, China does not need so earnestly the rail link to bypass the Malacca Strait from China to Malaysia’s Port Klang through Laos and Thailand, of which ECRL is the final section. However, that rail link is the essential part of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir’s dream of Pan-Asian Railway that will benefit Malaysia. It will provide Indochinese countries a route to bypass the Malacca Strait. Given China’s huge volume of shipping through the strait, it will also provide China with a major supplementary route to bypass the strait.
Now, ECRL will mainly benefit Malaysia, especially the development of its less developed parts.
China has already been building China-Laos Railway with more than half of the construction completed. In July 2017 Thailand signed contracts with China on the construction of the Thai section of the rail link from Bangkok to Nong Khai on Thai border with Laos for connection to China-Laos Railway. The section between Bankok and Thai northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima passed environmental assessment and began construction in November 2017.
Now, Mahathir regrets his decision to suspend ECRL, the last section of his dream of the Pan-Asian Railway he suggested 2 decades ago. China agrees to reduce ECRL cost by more than 10 billion yuan, but the railway remains a heavy financial burden for Malaysia, However, the return to the investment makes the project worthwhile especially for Malaysia as the return will be much greater to Malaysia than China. ECRL is now Malaysia’s own BRI project rather than China’s as China can do without it. The China-Laos and China-Thailand railways will greatly benefit China in its trade with Indochina including Malaysia even without ECRL. On the other hand China-Pakistan and China-Myanmar Economic Corridors will be quite enough for China to bypass the Malacca Strait.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Malay Mail’s report, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/03/22/daim-govt-to-finalise-ecrl-project-in-early-april/1735549.