KUANTAN: Bilateral trade and investment between Malaysia and China received another boost with the arrival of cruise container ship MV Bei Bu Wan Zhi Xing (The Star of Beibu Gulf) during its maiden voyage on the “Maritime Silk Route” tour itinerary with 284 passengers and crew.
Its arrival marked a new chapter in the history of Kuantan Port, the East Coast Economic Region (ECER) and Malaysia-China bilateral ties.
It is the first dedicated cargo and passenger vessel from Qinzhou Port in Southern China to Kuantan Port and is operated by Guangxi Beibu Gulf Cruise Terminal Co Ltd, which offers a unique nine-day tour vacation for passengers from Beihai, South China to Kuantan via Danang, Vietnam.
Alongside this, the company also provides a direct container line between Qinzhou and Kuantan which has a five-day turnaround for each way.
In March last year, its parent company - Guangxi Beibu Gulf International Port Group - had acquired a 38% equity stake in Kuantan Port Consortium Sdn Bhd from IJM Corporation Bhd.
To commemorate the historic occasion, a special ceremony was held to welcome the passengers which was graced by Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
Accompanying Liow were Kuantan Port Authority (KPA) chairman Tengku Tan Sri Azlan Sultan Abu Bakar, Pahang Culture and Tourism Committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsudin, IJM Corporation chief executive officer and managing director Datuk Teh Kean Ming, Guangxi Beibu International Port Group general manager Frank Wang Jun and ECER Development Council CEO Datuk Seri Jebasingam Issace John.
Also present were Pahang MCA chairman Datuk Hoh Khai Mun, state deputy chairman Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker, KPA director Datuk Seri Lee Jin Xian, Kuantan Port Consortium chief operating officer Datuk Khasbullah Kadir and Beihai Tourism Bureau deputy director-general Lu Xing Dong.
Liow said the event signified a new dimension in the role of Kuantan Port as a hub port for the ECER.
“From its current positioning as the trade and logistics hub for the region, especially for investors who wish to penetrate the Asean and the Asia Pacific markets, Kuantan Port also serves as a key entry point for tourists from abroad via the sea route, particularly China.
“With the opening of this cruise line, Kuantan has become a model city that represents the realisation of the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership between Malaysia and China in building the 21st century Maritime Silk Road,” he said.
Liow urged all parties to work closely together in promoting China-Malaysia relations and friendship, as well as strengthening co-operation and cultural exchanges for the benefit of both nations.