China - Malaysia Relations - Hedging Within the Belt and Road Initiative

Kuala Lumpur’s recent foreign policy approach to Beijing is most astutely described as one of “hedging”. The long term apprehension of China in retrospect to the complex ethnic dynamic of the country has continued to be a decisive influence in how it approaches Beijing, but it is one that is one which is approached with caution and pragmatism.

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Belt and Road is not dead, it is changing

Since the second half of 2018, China’s portrayal of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has changed. The multi-billion dollar deals that characterized 2016 have gone. The defining BRI moments of 2017 – the inaugural Belt and Road Forum in Beijing and the enshrining of BRI into the CCP constitution – have not been surpassed since. China has moderated its flowery rhetoric on the Belt and Road Initiative and been more reluctant to invest large sums of money abroad. Indeed, China’s outward investment has fallen over 20% since 2016. Even though the second Belt and Road Forum will happen in April 2019, commentary around it has been surprisingly quiet.

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