ECRL seen to usher in new era

Warm welcome: Wong (right) greeting Gao at the Concorde Club session. — IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: A prominent Chinese scholar hopes that the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project will be completed soon as two high-speed rail projects in South-East Asia have been completed.

“The Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail and Laos-China high-speed rail have been completed. Hopefully, the ERCL project will be completed quickly,” said Victor Gao, the chair professor at Soochow University and vice-president of the Centre for China and Globalisation.

“Hopefully, it will be faster. It will be 351kph rather than that of the Indonesian high-speed railway at 350kph. Malaysia can have an advantage of one hour extra.”

The 648km ECRL will traverse the east coast states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang before linking the Klang Valley on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

Gao, a prominent analyst who appears regularly on Al-Jazeera and CGTN (Global Television Network), gave a talk here on Belt and Road Initiative in Asean, attended by media and think tank representatives.

The talk was organised by the Concorde Club, led by Star Media Group adviser and Bernama chairman Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai. It is an informal group of editors and senior journalists who meet with politicians and key policymakers.

Gao said China embarked on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, to share its experience and wealth capabilities with other countries.

“President Xi Jinping is doing the right thing. We really need to focus on this. We cannot just develop without sharing our experience and wealth capabilities with other countries,” he said.

“That is why more than 150 countries join this BRI.”

On the estimated US$1 trillion spent on the BRI, Gao believes China wants to promote peace.

“If you really want to use war to solve problems, that’s not one trillion. It’s two trillion plus another two trillion,” Gao said, referring to the Afghanistan war in which the United States was involved.

“If you look at the Ukranian war, the US said they already spent US$100bil.”

Gao said it would be cheaper to promote peace as it was more expensive to engage in war against anyone.

“The building of bridges and roads and connectives will not only be a better use of money, but it is also an investment.

“I think a prince in Saudi Arabia said the right thing... ‘China helped you to build a bridge, airport and seaport; China will not be able to move them back to China; they stay in your country.’ So you are the beneficiary.

“Whereas if you have a war, look at Gaza, they are razing Gaza, it’s a shame. They are bombing everything,” he added.

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