Before Malaysia’s historic change of power in May 2018, the Chinese primarily invested in major infrastructure projects such as deep-sea ports and railway lines that were regarded as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). These projects reflect China’s wish to abandon decades of foreign policy reticence and play a greater role in global and regional developments. Critical observers point out that no matter what they cost, huge infrastructure projects like the East Coast Rail Link, Bandar Malaysia, Malacca Gateway and the deep-sea port in Kuantan will especially benefit China geopolitically and geo-economically since they are key elements in Beijing’s strategy for opening new spheres of influence, mitigating difficulties posed by the Strait of Malacca dilemma and gaining a foothold in Southeast Asian markets.
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