Malaysia’s about-face on Belt and Road to revitalise Chinese investment

As Putrajaya walks back icy stance on Beijing’s infrastructure projects, property seekers from China could pay attention to the ASEAN country once more

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Malaysia’s softened stance on Chinese-funded infrastructure projects will bode well for property seekers from China, according to property portal Juwai.com.

The reaffirmation of good relations between Beijing and Putrajaya will spur greater Chinese real estate investment, predicted Juwai.com CEO and director Carrie Law.

“We expect Chinese acquisitions of Malaysian real estate to grow in 2019… Chinese who want to move to Malaysia under the MM2H program or who simply want to invest in Malaysian property feel that Beijing has given the signal that such investment will be welcomed and not subject to official discouragement,” Law said.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was in Beijing last week for the second Belt and Road Forum where he helped ink a framework agreement between the Malaysian finance ministry and state-run Chinese developers to reinstate the USD34-billion Bandar Malaysia project.

The reinstatement of the Bandar Malaysia project comes on the heels of Mahathir’s earlier decision last month to revive the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), another Belt and Road project, following incendiary comments on China’s “colonialism” in 2018.

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“Like the ECRL, the Bandar Malaysia project should be viewed within the larger context of fostering and cementing long-term bilateral relations between Malaysia and China while ensuring that such projects add maximum economic value to the country,” said a statement from Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s office on 19 April.

Malaysia is already one of the fastest-growing destinations for Chinese property investment, according to Juwai.com estimates. Malaysia is the sixth most popular country for Chinese residential property buyers using the portal, up from 10th a year ago. In the first quarter, Chinese made 255 percent more buying inquiries in Malaysia than in the same quarter of 2018.

“Malaysia has reaffirmed its identity as a Belt and Road country. That makes it much more appealing to Chinese students, tourists, residents, and investors,” Law said.

China has been the largest investor in Malaysia for the past decade, while Malaysia is China’s second largest ASEAN trading partner, she emphasised.