Many bilateral opportunities for Sabah under BRI, says China diplomat

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah's strategic location and resource advantages have been amplified and harnessed in the post-pandemic era, pulling in investments worth billions from China to date.

Consul general of China in Kota Kinabalu, Huang Shifang, said this showed immense potential and prospects for mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Sabah within the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) framework.

"As a crucial point along the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, Sabah presents itself as an attractive investment destination for Chinese businesses.

"Sabah’s stunning landscapes, abundant resources and harmonious society provide a solid foundation and promising prospects for practical collaboration between the two places," she said during a media engagement session here on Thursday (Aug 24).

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More Chinese enterprises chose to invest and expand their operations in this region, she added when asked how China has helped Sabah economically and its plans for bilateral cooperation.

Their collaborative efforts extended beyond tourism and infrastructure into high-end manufacturing, green energy, logistics, transportation and more, she said.

"For example, the photovoltaic glass production line and silica sand mining and processing project invested by China Kibing Group at the Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park (KKIP) and Kudat, with a total investment of nearly RM3bil," said Huang.

She said the projects would realise an annual output of 1.2 million tonnes of silica sand and 900,000 tons of photovoltaic glass after the completion of the first phase, and create more than 2,000 new jobs, of which the majority will be for locals.

She said just this year, Kibing Group arranged for over 600 Sabahans to go to China to receive production skills training in batches.

This not only helped to enhance Sabah's labour force, she said, but was also a positive contribution to economic and social development.

"As another example, China Guangken Rubber Group and Bornion Timber Company set up a joint company in 2009 and jointly invested in the development of a 12,000ha rubber plantation project.

"The project has been rated by the Sabah Forestry Department as an A+ grade project," Huang said.

Earlier, she explained that the BRI initiative was proposed in 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping on the basis of developing the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, an idea formulated during his visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia.

The ultimate goal was to forge new paths for common development among neighbouring nations, she added.

She said in the past decade, the BRI had transformed from a mere concept into tangible action, effectively realising its vision while establishing a new platform for international cooperation and exchange.

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