As the coronavirus necessitates greater emphasis on cooperation between the U.S. and China, some experts worry that Washington’s decision to postpone the U.S.-ASEAN summit following a period of perceived disengagement risks pushing Southeast Asian countries further toward China and delays discussions on critical topics, including the U.S. rival to the BRI, Nikkei reports.
Browse our analysis section for news and articles on topics such as China's Belt and Road Initiative (OBOR), the Competing Visions of Japan, India, and other regional powers, and the stakes for U.S. policy.
In the wake of rising regional tensions due to conflict with Iran, Pakistan is working to maintain stability and advance progress on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Nikkei reports.
Malaysia has reinstated a consortium led by state-owned China Railway Engineering Corporation as the master developer of the Bandar Malaysia project, with the adjusted agreement requiring a larger deposit and a shorter payment term. The mixed development is expected to attract major multinationals, including Alibaba and Huawei, Nikkei reports.
In order to accomplish a nationwide 5G rollout by the first half of 2020, Malaysia is looking to Chinese and Japanese telecommunications companies to supply the needed technology and expertise. Proposals are currently dominated by Huawei, and Malaysian officials have affirmed the country's willingness to work with the controversial Chinese firm, Nikkei reports.
As the U.S.-China trade war drives Chinese enterprises and other companies to relocate, Southeast Asian countries are constructing industrial parks and using tax incentives to attract manufacturers. As a result, Chinese corporate investment in Thailand is expected to increase by 30 percent this year, and foreign direct investment in Malaysia roughly doubled, Nikkei reports.
Malaysia has relaunched the East Coast Rail Link after re-negotiations with China led to The Export Import Bank of China backing 85% of the cost. The project price is now $11 billion, a third of the original expected amount, reports Nikkei.
The Malaysian government has seized $243 million from a Chinese state-backed company planning two pipeline projects, on grounds that the payments were made under the prior administration of Najib Razak. Mahatir had promised to review any projects authorized by Najib, and reclaim any funds potentially linked to corruption or poor management.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said his country would use Huawei equipment "as much as possible" in Malaysia's 5G network, despite U.S. warnings that it is not secure, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
Transportation ministers from Malaysia and Singapore have signed a supplementary agreement deferring the four-kilometers, cross-border Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) until September. The $1 billion rail link was originally aimed at reducing congestion at the countries' border, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
China's Belt and Road (BRI) has taken a beating, but its central feature of big infrastructure projects will remain recognizable for years to come.
Malaysia and China agreed on Friday to resume construction of the multi-billion dollar East Coast Rail Link project after months of negotiations that strained ties between the two trade partners. The two sides have agreed to cut the cost of the 688km rail project to $10.7 billion, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
China Communications Construction Co. executives on Wednesday reiterated the infrastructure company has not given up on the multibillion-dollar East Coast Rail Link in Malaysia, on which development work has been suspended for months amid doubts over the project's financial viability, reports Nikkei.
While on a state visit to the Philippines, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad told journalists that if countries borrow money from China they cannot pay back, the country "may be under the control of the lender." The statement was read as a warning to Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte, who accepted a $9 billion credit line from China in 2016, reports Nikkei.
The U.S. should not conditionalize its infrastructure diplomacy to exclude or de-prioritize countries that participate in China’s Belt and Road. Extending support on an open basis will offer the broadest menu of options to governments and ensure that connectivity integrates, rather than divides, the Indo-Pacific.
Southeast Asia’s strategic importance for China, the United States, Japan, and others, and the advantages that will come with control over data flows, mean that the region’s decisions on digital infrastructure and internet governance will have implications that far transcend business outcomes.
Increasing criticism towards China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) coupled with China's economic squeeze has prompted Chinese skeptics of BRI to quietly ask if their government is putting its scarce resources to the right use. Although President Xi Jinping's BRI is still supported by leaders in Beijing, Xi's original ambitions are being rolled back out of public view, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
The trial of Najib Razak, Malaysia's former prime minister, over corruption-related charges tied to the 1MDB development fund is scheduled to begin on February 12. The prosecution is expected to probe whether China-backed infrastructure projects signed by Najib's government were used to bail out 1MDB, reports Nikkei.
New Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Hohamad has canceled billions of dollars in infrastructure projects financed by Malaysian state fund 1MDB after an investigation revealed that funds were allegedly siphoned into the bank account of former Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Malaysia will cancel its $20B East Coast Rail Link project with contractor China Communications Construction Co Ltd due to the high cost, but stated that they will continue to welcome investment from China on a case by case basis.
Until Chinese officials improve transparency standards, the international community should provide better alternatives to Chinese infrastructure loans and publicize the perils of opaque approaches to building infrastructure. Leaders in recipient countries must also demand greater transparency -- or risk drowning in the murky waters of China's Belt and Road Initiative.
Beijing is currently working on construction of a high-speed rail line in northern Thailand. Under its planned 3,000-km pan-Asian railway network, Chinese rail lines will extend even further south, stretching through Malaysia and feeding into Singapore, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
Malaysia will review claims that China signed over-valued infrastructure projects to bail out Malaysia's state investment fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad, under former Prime Minister Najib Razak's tenure.
Reconnecting Asia tracks infrastructure developments across Eurasia, a vast landmass that includes 60 percent of the global economy. Every day, new infrastructure projects are announced, some are advanced, and others encounter obstacles. Here is a selection of projects and trends we will be watching in 2019.
Five years into China’s massive Belt and Road Initiative, the United States is trying to respond to Xi Jinping’s infrastructure-building spree. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Reconnecting Asia Director Jonathan Hillman discusses the craving for more alternatives to Chinese offers and the window of opportunity it creates for the United States.
Japan will send experts from Kyushu Railway Co. and Japan Freight Railway Co. to Malaysia later in the month to study ways to improve the country's railway transportation system.
Malaysia has allowed Gamuda and MMC Corp. to resume underground works of the Mass Rail Transit 2 project after their joint venture agreed to a deeper cost cut, underscoring the government's resolve to push ahead with initiatives which only make economic sense.
Newly elected Asian leaders from the Maldives, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka question the "business sense" of some Chinese-funded infrastructure projects under the Belt and Road Initiative, casting doubt on Beijing's strategy for building regional influence.
Although Beijing insists that its Belt and Road Initiative has no geopolitical motives, the project has been at the center of an increasing number of political controversies, foreign and domestic, writes the Financial Times in a Special Report, citing analyses from the Reconnecting Asia Project.
Malaysia and Singapore will resume construction of the 350 km East Coast Rail Link project in 2020 on the basis that Singapore will be compensated $11 million for the delay.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir claims that Chinese leaders have accepted his government's request to stop three China-backed infrastructure projects due to debt concerns.
Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad is heading to China to renegotiate billion-dollar infrastructure projects signed by his predecessor, in an effort to reduce the nation's financial dependence on China.
Vietnam's Ministry of Investment and Planning issued a warning to its government about Chinese development assistance, citing concerns of high interest rates, project overruns, and a lack of local contribution to the projects.
The U.S.'s recently announced plan to invest $113 million in infrastructure throughout the Indo-Pacific region will have a limited impact and pales in comparison to China's multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative, according to Dr. James Crabtree of the National University of Singapore.
Chinese infrastructure investment throughout Southeast Asia has shifted the tide of opinion, simultaneously supporting authoritarian politics in certain states and engendering opposition to Belt and Road in others, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.
Mahathir's new government intended to cut the cost of the Light Rail Transit 3 project by 47%, from 31.65 billion ringgit to 16.63 billion ringgit ($4.11 billion). This also sends a worrying message to stakeholders of other costly infrastructure projects signed by Najib's government, which was blamed for "poor governance."
Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad is expected to lead a government delegation to Beijing, as Malaysia figures out how to service loans taken from China to finance costly infrastructure projects.
Malaysia suspended work on the East Coast Railway Link, which was being constructed by a Chinese contractor for $20 billion. This may signal Mahathir administration's intent to cut national debt ahead of the potential renegotiation with China.
The World Bank Monday urged Malaysia's new government to step up fiscal reforms amid robust economic growth to make the country more resilient to potential future shocks.The government should also restructure large-scale infrastructure projects and improve spending efficiency, it said.
Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has asked Japan for yen-denominated loans as Kuala Lumpur seeks to pare down its hefty debt load of $272 billion, 80 percent of total GDP, which has been blamed on the previous government for corruption and lavish spending on infrastructure projects.
Malaysia's Ministry of Finance is reviewing two gas pipeline projects worth $2.36 billion signed under the Najib administration, following the discovery that 88 percent of the money has been paid out despite only 13 percent of the work being completed.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad will send his finance minister to Beijing to renegotiate several infrastructure contracts following the discovery of three Chinese-funded and built projects where payments were made based on agreed time milestones and not work completed.
Despite the recent cancellation of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail line, the Chinese-funded East Coast Rail Link connecting Malaysia's biggest port to the Thailand border will maintain its funding amid government cutbacks, according to Malaysia’s Finance Minister.
Malaysia's decision to cancel the high-speed rail from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore suggests that Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's new government may reevaluate other costly Chinese-led projects to cut the country's debt, Nikkei reports.
Malaysia has canceled plans for a $14.8 billion high-speed rail project that would have connected Kuala Lumpur with Singapore.
Prime Minister Mahathir cancelled a proposed high-speed railway project that would have connected Kuala Lumpur with Singapore on Monday, citing the overall cost of the project as a primary concern. Mahathir's predecessor signed a legally-binding deal with his counterpart, Lee Hsien Loong, in December 2016 as a symbol of closer bilateral cooperation which will now require negotiating a $125 million penalty for pulling out.
Facing a $251 billion national debt that is far higher than figures published by the previous administration, the new Malaysian government will reexamine key infrastructure projects such as the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed railway and the East Coast Rail Link.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad stated that his government may scrap or renegotiate some infrastructure projects committed to by Najib's administration. The possible move stems from his goal to cut down debt and reduce Malaysia's fiscal burden.
China's President Xi Jinping promised that his Belt and Road Initiative would be a "plan in the sunshine." But the BRI's outlook is darkening as some actual and potential partners raise concerns about transparency, debt sustainability, and even China's underlying strategic aims.
After winning the elections last week, Malaysia's new Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, is expected to re-evaluate the country's relations with China, including the issue of Chinese-backed infrastructure projects.