Building international consensus on BRI

Front row, from left: Kee, Prof Zheng, Prof Yow, YB Dr Ong, Tan Sri Chuah, Gu Li, Zhong and Prof Ma with participants

UTAR Belt and Road Strategic Research Centre (BRSRC) hosted the 2nd seminar with Guangxi University for Nationalities (GXUN), China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park (CMQIP) and Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP), and the “Belt and Road Initiative Forum 2019” with Anhui Normal University (ANHU) at UTAR Sungai Long Campus. The event saw more than 100 participants from various universities, research institutes, industry, and government agencies.

The main objective of the seminar and forum was to promote academic interaction and collaboration between China and Malaysia on issues related to the development of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), including the twin parks development in Malaysia and China. In addition, it provided a platform for researchers to interact with international experts and identify potential areas for international collaboration.

The event was attended by delegates from China, GXUN, ANHU, CMQIP (China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park Group Holding Co. Ltd., and China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park Administrative Committee) and speakers from Malaysia, including MCKIP. A total of 20 papers was presented by speakers from China and Malaysia during the plenary and parallel sessions, covering topics related to Twin Parks Cooperation and Belt and Road Initiative.

Present at the opening ceremony were Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry YB Dr Ong Kian Ming; CMQIP Investment Holding Group Co., Ltd., People’s Republic of China Deputy Party Chief Gu Li; CMQIP Administrative Committee, People’s Republic of China Director of Personnel Division Zhong Guilian; MCKIP Sdn Bhd Head of Operation Ir Kee Lian Cheng; GXUN College of Ethnology and Sociology, People’s Republic of China Prof Zheng Yisheng; ANHU, People’s Republic of China School of Economics and Management Vice-Dean Prof Ma Ji; UTAR Planning and Development Committee Chairman Ir Academician Emeritus Prof Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Chuah Hean Teik; UTAR Vice President for Internationalisation and Academic Development Ir Prof Dr Yow Ho Kwang; UTAR Vice President for R&D and Commercialisation Prof Ts Dr Faidz bin Abd Rahman; UTAR Vice President for Student Development and Alumni Relations Prof Dr Choong Chee Keong and BRSRC Chairperson Prof Dr Cheng Ming Yu.

YB Dr Ong speaking about Industry 4.0 Opportunities in Malaysia

YB Dr Ong said, “I’m happy to note the presence of participants comprising not only of academicians and researchers but also SMEs and business associations from both Malaysia and the People’s Republic of China. For the past 10 years, China has consistently been Malaysia’s number one trading partner. In 2018, China ranked first in terms of imports and was the second-largest export destination. The total trade between our two countries was valued at USD77.72billion, an increase of 8.1% from 2017. Kuantan Port, which obtained Free Zone port approval with conditions from the Ministry of Finance Malaysia in June 2016 has established The Free Zone on 1 April 2019. This endorsement linking the Qinzhou Port will hopefully provide enthusiasm and new interest from Chinese investors especially logistics and supply chain operators as they consider using Kuantan Port as a gateway for manufacturing facilities, warehousing, distribution centres and a transit/ transhipment hub.”

He continued, “Working together with other ASEAN countries, the Malaysian Government should continue to promote regional economic integration through trade facilitation and reduction in non-tariff barriers. Strategically located, Malaysia continues to be a hub for trade and investments into ASEAN. Hence, the participation of Malaysia in the BRI would facilitate investors to integrate into the regional and global supply chain. This would complement Malaysia’s commitment to providing a conducive environment for business and commercial activities. In connection to this, Malaysia welcomes the prospect of multilateral cooperation with other BRI participating countries, supported by a pool of skilled talent that can easily adapt to the various industries’ needs.”

Prof Yow speaking on the relationship between Malaysia and China

Prof Yow said, “This year marks the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and China. Since then, bilateral relations between the two countries have continued to deepen. China is currently one of Malaysia's leading trading partners and Malaysia is China's largest trading partner in ASEAN. In addition to trade and economic cooperation, both countries have also developed close ties in cultural and educational interactions. Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP) and China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park (CMQIP) signify the strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries,” as he welcomed the delegates.

He added, “Aligned with the Belt and Road’s aspiration, this seminar and forum provide a platform for us to present and share our views, findings, analysis and recommendations on the current and potential challenges brought by the initiative to various aspects of Malaysia. Also, this seminar and forum will provide better insight and understanding of how local Malaysians could gain from China’s symbol of peace, and in return, how China could benefit from Malaysia. The Malaysian Ministry of Education has recently designated 5th of October as the Hari Akademia (or Academia Day) and the month of October as the Bulan Akademia or the Month of Academia. Therefore, today’s seminar is the start of such academic activities for UTAR in the month of Bulan Akademia in support of the Ministry of Education’s initiative.”

Prior to this, UTAR had participated in the seminar organised by Guangxi University for Nationalities (GXUN) and CMQIP on the “1st  Seminar on the Twin Parks Cooperation between China and Malaysia” held from 21 November 2018 till 24 November 2018, and ANHU on the “China-Malaysia Belt and Road Initiative Symposium” from 27 December till 28 December 2018.



Clockwise from top left: Gu, Kee, Prof Ma, Prof Cheng, and Prof Zheng

The event also saw a plenary session and two parallel panel discussions which offered in-depth analyses concerning Twin Parks Cooperation and Belt and Road Initiative. In the plenary session, moderated by Prof Dato’ Dr Tai Shzee Yew from UTAR Faculty of Accountancy and Management (FAM), China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park Investment Holding Group Co. Ltd. Deputy Party Chief Gu Li presented the development of China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park (CMQIP) and its historical opportunities. Focusing on improving the cooperation of “Two Countries, Twin Parks”, he explained areas which both countries should take concern, including government aspect and economic aspect.

The session was then continued with the presentation from Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park Sdn Bhd Head of Operation Ir Kee Lian Cheng. In his talk, he explained the update and progress of Malaysia’s first national industrial park—Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP) and presented the bilateral investment cooperation iconic projects between the two countries. According to him, the projects were strongly supported by the Malaysian government, where various attractive incentives were given to investors in MCKIP such as import duty exemption, stamp duty exemption, 100 per cent corporate income tax exemption up to 15 years, and existing East Coast Economic Region’s (ECER) incentives. He also explained the status of investment particularly in the industry of modern integrated steel mill and concrete spun piles manufacturing and presented the master plan of MCKIP in order to enhance participants’ understanding on this mega projects.

On the other hand, Prof Zheng Yisheng from GXUN College of Ethnology and Sociology talked about the Sino-Malaysia Double-Garden Cooperation Research Path from the perspective of Enterprise Anthropology. He said, “Anthropology is a science that studies the laws of human development. The history of anthropological development has experienced four revolutions. The first revolution was a study on the primitive people; the second was a study on peasant society; the third was a study on urban society, and last was a study on various enterprises in modern society.” He also suggested the focuses that should be put as the object and content of enterprise anthropology research, such as focus on corporate organisation, human resource management, consumer behaviour, product design, marketing, advertising and communication strategies, corporate culture, cross-cultural management, and minority entrepreneurs.

AHNU School of Economics and Management Vice-Dean Prof Ma Ji explained the background and the progress of Yangtze River Delta (YRD). He presented the comparison between YRD urban agglomerations and world-class city cluster, as well as described the historical evolution, essential connotation and strategic objectives of YRD Integration. 

At the plenary session, Prof Dr Cheng also presented on “The Development of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the ‘Two Countries Twin Parks’ Model’”. She gave a brief introduction on BRI and gave reports of the development of BRI, and BRI and ‘Two Countries Twin Parks’ Model. She said, “The keywords under BRI are cooperation, mutual benefit, sustainable growth, connectivity and development. Under the BRI 2018 report, the five connectivity indexes are policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bond.”

The plenary session was chaired by Prof Tai (centre) as the moderator

The first parallel session which discussed Twin Parks Cooperation and BRI was conducted after the lunch. The Twin Parks Cooperation featured ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute Singapore Senior Fellow Dr Tham Siew Yean, Zhong Guilian, Tunku Abdul Rahman College Institute of Social Economic Research Yap Hon Lun and GXUN Zheng Yulai. It was moderated by CXUN Dr Long Gaoyun. The BRI included AHNU Ma Chang Wei, Liu Shu Li and UTAR FAM Lee Sim Kuen. It was moderated by Prof Ma Ji.



Clockwise from top left: Yap, Zheng, Zhong and Dr Tham

Yap presented the overview of MCKIP and the latest development of twin parks while Zheng presented on the present situation, prospects and challenges of CMQIP. Yap said, “The idea of ‘two countries, twin parks’ was derived from the commitment by the governments of China and Malaysia in upgrading the bilateral investment cooperation.” Zheng expressed, “We need to know how to attract Malaysian enterprise through good cooperation among people. Companies need to be exposed to the host country and understand the culture to have better cooperation.”

Dr Tham spoke on MCKIP Park’s objectives, immediate impact, long-term impact and foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in Malaysia. She said, “The immediate objectives of MCKIP are fulfilled in terms of attracting FDI and it enhances the capabilities of the locals through training. The long-term objectives in terms of contributing to long term development goals will be dependent on technology transfer as in other FDI.” Meanwhile, Zhong said, “The cooperation of Two Countries, Twin Parks aims to promote exchanges and visits of youth between China and Malaysia, to have advance international exchanges and cooperation in vocational education, to carry out cultivation of international innovation and entrepreneurship and to deepen cooperation and exchanges in culture and art between the two countries.”


Clockwise from top left: Ma, Lee Sim Kuen and Liu

On the other hand, Ma Chang Wei delivered his talk on transnational network and entrepreneurship of modern Nanyang overseas Chinese. He shared the story of businessman Oei Tjoe, explaining how the successful man went to Indonesia looking for opportunities, established his business network, worked hard and achieved success, and eventually returned to China for future prospect. While Lee Sim Kuen discussed her paper which focussed on the Conflict of Law and Rule of Law under the BRI from Malaysian perspective. She highlighted the importance of recognising the laws and she said, “Every country has its own arbitration centre. If you want to have a global understanding of BRI, you must understand the legal framework. By understanding Malaysian’s perspective, you will actually know how to go with the law if you invest in Malaysia. ”

Moreover, Liu talked about game analysis based on the available resources, benefits and costs. According to him, in the game process, if some participants demand excessive benefits that do not match their strength or costs, then non-cooperative games or conflicts may happen. He said that non-equilibrium state has the possibility to involve into equilibrium state, therefore in different power comparison situations, the game between the two participants can reach some possible equilibrium.

The second session which focused on Twin Parks Cooperation was presented by Dr Long, GXUN Chen Run Xu and UTAR FAM Head of PhD and MPhil Programmes Dr Cham Tat Huei, moderated by Yap Hon Lun; while BRI-related session was presented by AHNU Hu Xiao Wen, Chin Mui Yin from Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC), UTAR FAM Academic Development and Undergraduate Programmes Deputy Dean Dr Hen Kai Wah, and UTAR Institute of Chinese Studies Contemporary China Studies Unit Head Dr Chin Chong Foh. It was moderated by UTAR Lee Kong Chian Faculty of Engineering and Science Ts Dr Tan Ooi Kuan.


Clockwise from top left: Dr Long, Chen, and Dr Cham

Dr Long’s presentation was on the concept of soft power proposed by Joseph Nye which focused on culture, values and ideology. She said, “We need to enhance the trust between the two countries. This can lead to higher productivity in the manufacturing aspect. These collaborations create job opportunity while boosting Malaysia’s growth.”

“New companies that venture into the industrial park may have adaptation problems. Thus, we need to be concerned not only on their level of productivity but on their mental health as well. We need to encourage people to practice continuous learning and provide training at the management level while exposing them to the global opportunity. That way, we can also attract more global talents and leverage on different ideas to increase productivity,” Chen said as she presented on talent recruitment methods as well as industrial park management and challenges.

Dr Cham’s presentation focused on the perception and expectation of the businesses in Kuantan towards MCKIP. He said, “The objective of the study is to examine the impact of MCKIP on the economy of Kuantan through eliciting the perception and expectation of the local businesses in Kuantan towards MCKIP and to explore potential areas for local businesses to participate in the development of MCKIP.”



Clockwise from top left: Hu, Chin, Dr Chin and Dr Hen

Furthermore, Hu gave a presentation on foreign exchange intervention, exchange rate stability and monetary policy rules in emerging market economies. He stated the reasons central banks care about exchange rate fluctuation and explained how policymakers use policy interest rate and foreign exchange intervention to address inflation rate and exchange rate. While Chin talked about the challenges faced by Malaysian SMEs and the way forward under BRI framework. She highlighted the importance of exploring the readiness of local SMEs to play an active role in the initiative and presented her research result which consisted of the perceptions of Malaysian SMEs from both the service and manufacturing sectors. 

Besides, Dr Hen presented a study about key research trend in BRI’s scientific publication via bibliometric analysis. He shared his research outcome and concluded that BRI-related research area has experienced fast growth due to the high demand. On the other hand, Dr Chin presented a comparative analysis on BRI perceptions of Malaysia’s mainstream newspapers. He said, “In Malaysia, the BRI has attracted much media attention. By reviewing the press content, we would be able to detect the sentiments and perceptions of local communities towards the BRI as well as Malaysia-China relations.”


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