Na­jib: One Belt, One Road op­por­tu­ni­ties are enor­mous

World lead­ers be­lieve OBOR will fa­cil­i­tate sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic and cul­tural ex­change

New Straits Times - - Front Page - BEI­JING

MALAYSIA is com­mit­ted to help fully re­alise China’s “pro­ject of the cen­tury” to re­shape more than half the world through a land and sea route called the One Belt, One Road Ini­tia­tive (OBOR), which world lead­ers gath­ered here are con­fi­dent will fa­cil­i­tate sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic and cul­tural ex­change.

Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak, at a press con­fer­ence at the end of the two-day Belt and Road Fo­rum for In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion here yes­ter­day, de­scribed de­vel­op­ments fol­low­ing Malaysia’s sup­port for OBOR and its close ties with China as “very ex­cit­ing”, not just for busi­ness­men, but also the peo­ple through the cre­ation of more jobs.

“The op­por­tu­ni­ties are enor­mous. Tra­di­tion­ally, it was the West ex­port­ing cap­i­tal to the East, and they opened fac­to­ries and the peo­ple in the East were their work­ers. Now, it is the East ex­port­ing cap­i­tal to the West and also to other parts of Asia, and they are able to cre­ate jobs, bring tech­nol­ogy, and pro­vide mar­kets.

“So, there is now a par­a­digm shift in the world eco­nomic or­der, which we are well po­si­tioned to ben­e­fit from due to our strong links with China. This is a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity for us to ad­vance the Malaysian econ­omy to­gether with the Chi­nese econ­omy.”

Na­jib said Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping had stressed that what­ever was im­ple­mented would be on a win-win ba­sis, with shared ben­e­fit and pros­per­ity. The lead­ers also agreed to meet once ev­ery two years, with the next meet­ing to be held in China in 2019.

The sec­ond and fi­nal day of the fo­rum, a Lead­ers’ Round­table, was held at the pic­turesque Yanqi Lake In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence Cen­tre in the north­east sub­urbs of Bei­jing. The fo­rum, which was held at the China Na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre on the first day, was launched by Xi, who con­cep­tu­alised OBOR, or the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive (BRI), in 2013.

Xi, at the end of the fo­rum, said it had reached a broad con­sen­sus and achieved pos­i­tive out­come.

OBOR won sup­port from more than 100 coun­tries across five con­ti­nents, and in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions, with nearly 50 co­op­er­a­tion agree­ments signed be­tween gov­ern­ments on the joint con­struc­tion of the route.

Na­jib, in agree­ing that the out­come was very en­cour­ag­ing, said the OBOR con­cept was ac­cepted by world lead­ers in at­ten­dance as one that would en­hance con­nec­tiv­ity across Asia, South­east Asia, East Africa and Europe.

“In the joint com­mu­nique is­sued at the end of the fo­rum, what was stressed were peo­pleto-peo­ple in­ter­ac­tion, gov­er­nance, rule of law, mu­tual re­spect, win-win so­lu­tions, shared pros­per­ity, pre­serv­ing the re­spec­tive coun­tries’ sovereignty, and peace.

“With the un­cer­tain­ties and con­flict in the world to­day, this can serve as an im­pe­tus for devel­op­ment and growth. In the long term, when an area is de­vel­oped with the rel­e­vant in­fra­struc­ture, it will lead to the growth of in­dus­tries and the econ­omy, as well as peo­ple-to-peo­ple and cul­tural in­ter­ac­tion,” he said, adding that the ini­tia­tive was a timely one.

Malaysia, be­ing among the first coun­tries sup­port­ing OBOR, en­joyed “first movers ad­van­tage”.

“We were among the first to give our sup­port to the ini­tia­tive, and we are among the first to ben­e­fit,” he said, cit­ing the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), which would pro­vide thou­sands of jobs to the peo­ple as an ex­am­ple.

Na­jib high­lighted the many mem­o­randa of un­der­stand­ing (MoUs) and agree­ments signed and ex­changed as a re­sult of Malaysia’s close ties with China.

Malaysia signed three govern­ment-to-govern­ment MoUs with China dur­ing Na­jib’s five-day work­ing visit, which in­cluded a trip to Hangzhou for a tour of China e-com­merce gi­ant Alibaba Group’s head­quar­ters.

He also wit­nessed the sign­ing of a three-way MoU be­tween Malaysia Dig­i­tal Econ­omy Cor­po­ra­tion Sdn Bhd, Hangzhou Mu­nic­i­pal Govern­ment and Alibaba (China) Com­pany Ltd there to bring the coun­try’s Dig­i­tal Free Trade Zone to the next level.

In Bei­jing, he wit­nessed the sign­ing of a sup­ple­men­tary agree­ment to fa­cil­i­tate the con­struc­tion of the sec­ond phase of the ECRL in Malaysia, as well as the ex­change of nine busi­ness-to­busi­ness (B2B) MoUs and agree­ments on Sun­day, with pro­posed in­vest­ments es­ti­mated at RM31.26 bil­lion.

Felda Global Ven­tures Hold­ings Bhd (FGV) has also inked a MoU with China-based Sino­grain Oils Cor­po­ra­tion to col­lab­o­rate on ex­plor­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of sup­ply, stor­age, pro­cess­ing and dis­tri­bu­tion of FGV’s palm oil­based prod­ucts in China.

Na­jib said there was another MoU, which was close to 95 per cent to be­ing signed.

Malaysian busi­ness­men, he said, were heart­ened with Malaysia’s close re­la­tion­ship with China be­cause it helped fa­cil­i­tate ne­go­ti­a­tions with the Chi­nese.

“They are ex­cited with the op­por­tu­ni­ties and in­creas­ing open­ness.”

The dig­i­tal econ­omy, he said, was also poised for dou­ble-digit growth.

“So, these are ex­cit­ing times. This is why peo­ple are jeal­ous of us hav­ing these links. They crit­i­cise us, but it’s for the wrong rea­sons, it is not ra­tio­nally­based.”

China ral­lied in­ter­na­tional sup­port at the fo­rum for OBOR — the land belt through Cen­tral Asia (Silk Road Eco­nomic Belt) and the sea road pass­ing through the In­dian Ocean (21st Cen­tury Mar­itime Silk Road), both reach­ing into Europe.

The fo­rum, themed “Co­op­er­a­tion for Com­mon Pros­per­ity”, is the high­est-level di­a­logue since the vi­sion of OBOR was first shared by Xi.

Be­sides 29 heads of state and govern­ment, BRF was also at­tended by some 80 lead­ers of in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Be­sides Na­jib, other lead­ers at­tend­ing are Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, In­done­sian Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo, Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Rodrigo Duterte, Viet­namese Pres­i­dent Tran Dai Quang, Cam­bo­dian Prime Min­is­ter Hun Sen and Myanmar State Coun­sel­lor Aung San Suu Kyi.

Also present are the United Na­tions sec­re­tary-gen­eral, and heads of the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.

Na­jib had bi­lat­eral meet­ings with sev­eral lead­ers on the side­lines of the fo­rum, among them Sri Lankan Prime Min­is­ter Ranil Wick­remesinghe, the United King­dom’s Chan­cel­lor of the Ex­che­quer Philip Ham­mond, Pol­ish Prime Min­is­ter Beata Maria Szydlo and IMF man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Chris­tine La­garde.

He said his dis­cus­sions with Ham­mond re­volved around the UK’s tra­di­tional re­la­tion­ships with non-Euro­pean Union coun­tries post-Brexit.

He dis­cussed the state of the world econ­omy, among oth­ers, with La­garde.

BER­NAMA PIC

Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak at the Lead­ers’ Round­table dur­ing the Belt and Road Fo­rum for In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion in Bei­jing yes­ter­day.

BER­NAMA PIC

Page 1 pic: Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak with Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and other world lead­ers and del­e­gates af­ter the Lead­ers’ Round­table of the Belt and Road Fo­rum for In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion in Bei­jing yes­ter­day.

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