Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook said on Thursday that Malaysia seeks to become China's transshipment hub for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Delivering the opening address at the International Forum here, Loke said Malaysia's strategic position in the region with a large number of ports facing the South China Sea and Malacca Strait and commitment to the Belt and Road Initiative made it an ideal candidate.
"The historic presence of China in Malaysia, particularly in Melaka during the era of the ancient Silk Road, inspired the establishment of a 'port alliance' network between the two countries," Loke said.
"It is my fervent hope that this alliance is further optimized in an effort to augment Malaysian ports capacity," he said.
The alliance was established in 2015 and comprises 12 Chinese ports and nine Malaysian ports and includes capacity building, sharing of expertise, undertaking port studies and providing technical assistance.
Loke pointed to the The Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP), the first industrial park to be jointly developed by Malaysia and China, as an example of the way forward.
"In line with the Belt and Road Initiative, Malaysia and China has also jointly established two industrial parks -- one in Kuantan Malaysia, and the other in Qinzhou, Chinese region of Guangxi (Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region)."
"In optimizing the flow of trade and investment between Malaysia and China, Kuantan Port offers investors in MCKIP the fastest route to China's Qinzhou Port, its sister port, in just three to four days," he said.
The minister also said the involvement of Chinese companies in Malaysia's major rail projects have helped Malaysia to increase its capacity and gradually upgrade rail services in recent years.
One of the projects is electrified double-tracking project contracted by a consortium of state-own Chinese companies in southern Malaysia. Upon completion in 2021, the 197-km double track railway would boost connectivity not only domestically but also for the region.
Loke also said the opening of the CRRC Rolling Stock Center in Batu Gajah, Perak by the Chinese train manufacturer was another path to Malaysia becoming a regional hub, this time for the rail industry.
The rolling stock center offers one-stop rail solutions covering assembly, testing, maintenance and repair for locomotives and rolling stock as well as other transport equipment.
"The establishment of the center not only makes Malaysia the region's locomotive industry hub but has also generated more than 800 job opportunities for the locals that include high-level technology in the rail and locomotive industry," he said.