Southeast Asia should change outdated attitudes toward investment from China

By Wang Jiamei Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/25 22:53:40

Some politicians in Southeast Asian nations never tire of playing political games by smearing Chinese investment, a typical manifestation of nationalism that actually represents an irresponsible attitude toward their own national interests.

In a speech at Invest Malaysia 2018 in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak dismissed claims that Malaysia is selling sovereignty to China for its investment, calling these charges "scaremongering" by irresponsible political opponents.

With Malaysia recording higher foreign direct investment from Japan compared with China, such accusations amount to nothing but stirring up nationalist sentiment against China, which is actually not new in various Southeast Asian nations.

But it represents a serious misunderstanding of China's opening-up policy, which adheres to developing extensive economic, trade and technological exchanges and cooperation with countries and regions on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.

For some historical reasons, those who have little knowledge of China's opening-up and overseas development policies are still inclined to link contemporary Chinese investment in Southeast Asia to its foreign policy toward the region decades ago.

Such concerns may be understandable, but it seems irresponsible for politicians to make misleading allegations by taking advantage of this traditional misunderstanding. Fundamentally speaking, fanning the flames of nationalism for political gain goes against the interests of the Malaysian people.

It is true that there has been a rise in Chinese investments and projects in Malaysia in recent years, especially under the Belt and Road (B&R) initiative. For instance, in August 2017, ground was broken on a $13 billion East Coast Rail Line in Malaysia, a rail link being built by China that will connect the country's east and west coasts, as well as its main shipping ports.

B&R projects like the rail line are aimed at improving local infrastructure and connectivity, bringing real benefits to the local people.

Moreover, bilateral investment is not a one-way issue as Malaysian companies have also made investments in China. A typical example is Malaysia's conglomerate Genting's ski resort in Zhangjiakou, North China's Hebei Province. Known as the Genting Resort Secret Garden, the facility is expected to host the high-profile Olympic freestyle skiing and snowboarding events in the Winter Olympics 2022.

Tangible economic benefits and projects show that only bilateral cooperation can promote common development.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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