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Political Economy of China’s Investment in Malaysia (2009–2018)

In: Bandung
Author:
Elsa Lafaye de Micheaux Associate Professor, Centre Asie du Sud-Est ( case), Paris University of Rennes, France, elsa.lafaye-demicheaux@univ-rennes2.fr

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The Chinese investments in South-East Asia can be considered as a vector of the People’s Republic of China’s assertion in the region. They are bound by political agreements and promote geopolitical as well as economic strategies. The present monographic study of the China’s contemporary investments in Malaysia under Najib Rakak’s prime ministership (2009–2018) underlines their particular character when compared to the previous investors: very concentrated and high amounts; located in the margins (East Coast of the Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia on Borneo). Breaking with the former logics of traditional investors (European, US then Japanese) who concentrated on the West Coast of the Peninsular Malaysia, the new sectors for Chinese investments in Malaysia are mainly in the metal industry, transport infrastructures and ports, as well as real estate. Clearly exhibiting a new pattern in terms of content, China’s investments in Malaysia could be considered as specific in motive and modus operandi. The focus on two case studies of industrial investments, namely the development of the Kuantan Industrial Park and Port (Pahang) and the exploitation of the Sokor Gold Mine (Kelantan) contribute modestly to the characterization of its original pattern and rationale from a political-economy perspective. It results in a re-contextualization of the industrial investments within in the diplomatic and political Malaysia-China bilateral relationship.

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