China shows interest in KL-Singapore high-speed rail project

PUTRAJAYA: China has expressed interest in participating in Malaysia’s 330km-long Kuala Lumpur-Singa­pore high speed rail (HSR) link project.

China President Xi Jinping said the project, together with port development and other connectivity projects, were on top of their overseas investment ventures.

He said they were also ready to consider participating in the Nor­thern Economic Corridor development projects.

“The Chinese government will continue to encourage Chinese companies to participate in Malaysia’s railway, port and other connectivity projects.

“The Chinese government is ready to give positive consideration to participate in the Northern Corridor development projects in the appropriate ways,” he said yesterday at a joint press statement with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak after their bilateral meeting at the Perdana Putra Building here.

Earlier this year, Malaysia and Singapore announced plans for the rail link, which is expected to cut land travelling time between the two countries to just 90 minutes.

The project, targeted to be completed by 2020, is reported to cost about RM40bil. Several local and foreign firms have been reported to have started talks to form consortiums to bid for the project.

The firms are MMC Corp Bhd, which may team up with Gamuda Bhd and Chinese and European system integrators and YTL Corp Bhd with Spanish bullet train maker Talgo or CAF.

Other firms are UEM Group Bhd, which is working with Ara Group to form a consortium with European companies that may also include Talgo, while Global Rail is said to be talking to Canada’s Bombardier Inc and Chinese firm China Railway Group.

Xi said during the bilateral meeting that both governments agreed to maintain high-level contacts and this would help enhance coordination on major issues.

“There will be a closer cooperation in defence, law enforcement, security, naval and military exchange, combating terrorism and transnational crime. By doing so, we are going to create a sound environment for the growth and prosperity of both countries,” he added.

He said both countries had agreed to actively advance the construction of science lab and expand the training and exchanges among young scientists.

He added that both governments would also encourage competent and capable companies to take active part in the space and scientific entrepreneur cooperation.

Meanwhile, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Moha­med said Malaysia was eyeing 5% of China’s US$500bil (RM1.588tril) outbound investments over the next five years.

The country is also hoping to attract 5% of the 80 million outbound tourists from China searching for a suitable holiday destination.

“With its US$500bil set to flow into other countries, China will be an important investment source for us,” he said at a press conference after the Malaysia-China Economic Sum­mit at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre yesterday.

Mustapa said China’s huge potential was something that should be looked into by the ministry, Malay­sian Investment Development Authority and Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation.

He said China’s investment in Malaysia was less than the other way around.

“Currently, China’s investment in our country is only about 10% of the US$6.3bil (RM20.05bil) of what Malay­sia invested in China,” Mustapa said.

Asked the reasons for the imbalance, he cited the high speed of development experienced by China.

“There are a lot of opportunities for growth there,” he said, adding that Malaysian businessmen were knowledgeable and attuned to the Chinese market.

Mustapa said Malaysia hoped that China’s industry players would invest in the services and manufacturing sectors here. On the event, he said eight business projects worth RM9bil were signed with China.