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Should M’sia worry over the China investments?
Published on: Saturday, October 28, 2017

By Datuk John Lo
A very good Malay friend asked for my comments on whether Malaysia should worry about China’s investments.

Obviously, many Malaysians have begun to raise this question because the opposition has been passing negative remarks in their campaign against the Chinese investments secured by the Federal Government.

I would like to give my apolitical perspectives.

Worst case scenario – Will China’s investments lead to invasion? Historically, China has never invaded another country or colonised any territory. China has been the victim of invasion and colonisation by all the European powers, Japan, and USA in the form of “territory concessions” to these countries.

Japan invaded and occupied a large part of China and Taiwan. It slaughtered millions of Chinese, the most infamous incident was the Nanjing Massacre where 300,000 were murdered and mass rape was committed by Japanese troops. All European powers have invaded each other’s territories and colonised the world.

Britain has invaded all except 22 countries in the world. Japan and Western powers started two world wars.

The West practices confrontation and “winner takes all” philosophy, China in collaborative co-operation.

In the last 30 years, there is a sharp contrast in foreign policy conduct between China and USA.

China has never started a war with any country. In sharp contrast, USA and her Nato allies, especially UK, have invaded and brought untold miseries to countries in the Middle East. Look at Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now they are trying to destabilise Iran. Remember Vietnam? USA has not changed her cold war mentality.

Their basis of forging foreign relationship with other countries is based on keeping the American arms industry complex prosperous by instigating wars. This “cowboy” style is a distinct danger to world peace.

China’s focus on the other hand, is building highways and railways in many African countries, ports and other infrastructure in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Malaysia. China has poured in billions in economic development in many countries.

Britain has colonised Malaysia. China has sent a princess to marry the Sultan of Malacca.

Such gestures, though in different history periods, serve to highlight the respective styles of the West and China.

Tun Mahathir’s “look East Policy” could have been China instead of Japan had he been the Prime Minister now.

Notwithstanding exploitation by the West, many Malaysians in the corridors of power are still very much anglophiles and overtly westernised. Puzzling that these people would still adore the ground our colonisers/exploiters tread on and would scoff at China’s investment. Something is not right here.

It is time they review their outlook, at least, keep an even keel as Malaysia’s future is at stake.

Over the last 30 years, China’s economic growth has been phenomenal. A country of 1.3 billion with the biggest number of poor people, has uplifted more than 600 million into middle class. She is adding 30 million [Malaysia’s total population] to this number every year. Most respectable studies are predicting the Chinese economy would be bigger than USA before 2030. Bloomberg says this will happen in 2026. [https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2016-us-vs-china-economy/]

USA is declining. Donald Trump’s inward-looking policy is hastening it. USA and her allies have ruled the world and imposed their will on other countries in the name of democracy and promise of prosperity for a few hundred years. Very few countries have benefited and many have suffered by adopting or submit to their will.

China’s economic growth model has shown to be better than the West’s.

USA’s presence in Malaysia has helped little to build up our economy. They have been pumping our oil for years but has not given us an oil industry. They have invested a lot more, I really mean a lot more in Singapore’s oil industry. Even in IT, they have set up factories in Penang but have not taken any significant Malaysian partners for research and development. They have done this big time with Singapore. Are the Americans willing to invest in ports or railways? Or buy properties? No way as their focus has always been short term self-centred “profits and benefits” for themselves.”

China is not a rising super power. China is already a super power. She has set up international financial and development institutions to rival and replace pro-West ones like IMF, World Bank etc.

China’s AIIB [Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank] has enrolled many countries including USA’s traditional allies like Australia, UK and Germany despite threats of American repercussions. USA can no longer squeeze the developing world using these so called international institutions under her control.

China’s “One Belt One Road” is set to change the world positively, especially the less developed countries.

Look at the economic reality for Malaysia. The Americans have boycotted and staged an extensive smear campaign against our oil palm to protect her edible oil industry. It almost killed it. China and Malaysia are on the same continent. She has 1.3 billion people, increasingly becoming wealthy. USA has just about 400 million.

Export to China is a lot easier logistically. America is using all sort of threats to control other countries, often using trade. If this fails, the aircraft carriers will arrive at the doorsteps. In very simple language, Malaysia can sell “mau sang wang” to China at a high price that is unheard off before. How to sell durians to America?

China is the largest market in the world. And the Chinese have money to buy our products at equitable prices.

Far too many Malaysians are willing to invest in properties or take pride to send their children to UK for education.

In many international surveys, UK’s education is at the bottom. China and Singapore are on top, with Shanghai at the very top. China produces scientists and engineers more than USA and Europe combined every year.

Why would we pay for expensive-at-the-bottom-rank education? Why are we not sending students to China where the cost is a fraction to UK’s? Mara is sending thousands of students to Ohio State University. What is its ranking?

What for? UK is importing Chinese science and maths teachers in order to restore her standards.

The fastest computers in the world are Chinese. They have been able to break-through in quantum computing and can send quantum signals from space. China has already got a prototype quantum computer which is 24,000 times faster than the present fastest computers. Usage of smart phone and IT are more extensive in China than USA. Even hawkers can accept smart phone payments on the spot!

Very important but often ignored is that China and Malaysia are in the same time zone!

Tan Sri Musa’s pragmatism towards China is paying and will bring more good dividends for Sabah.

No way can Sabah have as many American tourists in 10 years as Chinese tourists in 1-year arrivals.

What is more important for our future is that on his recent visit to Beijing, the Chinese has promised him an additional one million tourists if Sabah has the necessary facilities for them! The current tourism boom will pale when one more million Chinese tourists, including more high-end Chinese MICE tourists come after the completion of SICC. From Sabah’s perspectives, China is nearby, world’s largest market, increasingly wealthy.

Next stage is for Sabah to look to China for agricultural collaboration, the objective being to transform Sabah into Malaysia’s “Food State” and high value crops for export. China has the technology to feed 1.3 billion.

I am certain China can give Sabah the necessary assistance so that we can eliminate or reduce RM45 billion food import each year.

Malaysian high officials and opposition parties must open their eyes on how can Malaysia leverage China’s fast-growing international financial power already, the Reminbi has become the medium of exchange and payment for a number of oil producing countries.

The USD is not backed by gold. China has proposed the use of Reminbi as an international currency to be backed by her gold reserves. Shanghai will rival and may soon over take New York as the financial capital of the world.

USA dominated IMF has finally recognised Reminbi as a reserve currency.

I can quite understand the opposition’s inclination to politicise China’s investments to instil fear in the voters’ minds, especially the Malay voters. I am willing to take a bet that should the opposition take over the government, they will run to Beijing first for investment. Reason is simple, USA will not invest much here.

Europe is down. Japan has been in doldrums for more than 20 years. They need investment more than Malaysia!

It is not wise to run down China’s investment for the sake of political campaigning.

The proper way to address any issue on China’s investment is not to blame the Chinese.

They have come because the government has lobbied hard for China’s investment. If the opposition has any unhappiness, they should direct their criticism on the government but should not implicate China.

To say that China is giving kickback money is in bad taste and shows insensitivity and crudeness.

I am not advocating abandoning relationship with America for China. We should keep an even keel with both superpowers. Definitely it makes economic sense to deal with China more than current level for reasons I have stated above.

Thanks to Tun Razak’s wisdom and foresight for being the first head of state in Asean to establish diplomatic relationship with China in 1974. Malaysia occupies a special place in Beijing’s heart.

Malaysia should use this for our benefit. I am sure Beijing would welcome Malaysia to exercise this privilege.

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