Exploit fallout from US-China trade war
Published on: Saturday, September 22, 2018

By Datuk John Lo

American tourism players are already reporting reduction of bookings from China. But out of China trips in the first half 2018 has exceeded more than 70 million trips.

What does this tell us? Chinese tourists who like to visit USA, are diverting to other destination.

These are higher-end tourists.

Time for Sabah to put our act together to “harvest” this golden opportunity from the current trade war!

To do this, we will need a new “out of the box” sales and marketing approach for the Chinese USA bound tourists have very different tastes and requirements from those who are already coming to Sabah.

Even more important is the potential MICE market for Sabah now.

Sabah must be out there in the Chinese market “big time” to materialise these opportunities presented to us by this trade war. I apologise if I talk out of turn next.

Typically MICE business can take up to 3 or more years to materialise.

First year spent in promotion in the first year with no guarantee of materialization rate.

Breaking through is the hardest. Second year is for corporations to table budget for approvals, plan and organise.

Hopefully some MICE business will come in Third year. Some may be in 4th or fifth year.

That’s the nature of MICE, a lot of hard work but the reward is well worth it.

Just look at Singapore and other successful MICE destinations!

Palm oil

I know most of Sabah palm oil is exported to China. Among other things, China has imposed higher tariff on American soya. China is the biggest consumer of soya in the world and is now actively looking for alternative supply and types.

Sabah is Malaysia’s biggest palm oil state. It is there in our major interest to be in the forefront to explore new potentials from China’s curtailment of American imports of Soya.

This can be in the form of downstream investments and new derivative products or even other edible oil crops for long term Chinese demand for such oil can only increase.


West Malaysia has secured the giant share of the investment from China, notwithstanding the current uncertain status to some projects. Sabah has practically got nothing.

Some Chinese contractors are in town but these are not investors, just contractors.

As the estrangement of USA and China deepens, the South China Sea conflict will worsen.

Sabah is Malaysia’s strategic eastern portion. It will be in China’s interest to be friendly to Sabah as well by spreading meaningful investment to here.


This is an interesting totally unexplored area. China’s renowned Xiamen university has established a large branch campus in Sepang, W Malaysia. I understand talks are underway for a second Chinese university branch campus.

This should be welcome for two reasons. Firstly, there are already many branch campuses of universities from UK and Australia. Next, Chinese branch campus can produce more students knowledgeable in Chinese and foster better communication/understanding with our largest trading partner.

Towards this end and as Sabah does not have any foreign university branch campus, we can host the second Chinese university branch campus. In addition, Sabah can consider encouraging establishment of a Chinese international school.

Malaysia has more than 130 international schools, most of which are in English [British, Australian, USA] with some in German, Japanese etc.

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