Belt and Road in Malaysia: Make or Break?

With the shock election of Mahathir Mohamad in May 2018, Malaysia has put itself at the center of an emerging debate regarding the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Across BRI countries, there have been growing concerns in recent months about mounting debt owed to China and uncertainty as to what happens in the eventuality of BRI project failure. Already, Pakistan, Nepal and Myanmar have postponed or cancelled BRI projects in their countries based on such fears. But these were one-off cases; individual projects that were scrapped - but not, as yet, reflective of a wider backlash against big-ticket infrastructure. This is where Malaysia is different.

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Editorial: Where the Chinese go, Alipay and WeChat Pay go

Where people go, they need to buy goods; and where Chinese go they prefer to buy using Alipay or WeChat Pay.  So, while the Digital Silk Road is being promoted by the Chinese government and to some extent by all the 65 (and counting…) countries along the way, the mobile payments path has been under construction by travelling individuals and the businesses who serve them for some years now. “ We need to figure out how to remove the barriers between them through the use of modern tech”, said Zhou Li, publisher and editor in chief of the China Daily Asia at the same Asia-Pacific Business Forum event.

This “Mobile Payments Path” is real and people are driving it, not government policy. Chinese travelers and tourists have been building it with each step they take and each mobile payment they make.  Let’s look at some examples…

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A Bet on Belt and Road: Can Kazakhstan become the success story of Central Asia?

Central Asia sends connotations of vast steppes, mountainous areas and memories of the ancient Silk and Spice Routesthat enabled the region to become a hub for trade in Eurasia before and during the Middle Ages. While the region may have seen its importance in global trade diminish with the inception of sea and air trade routes, it never lost its geographic edge at the heart of Eurasia. This old advantage is now being rediscovered through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI); and interest in the region, among governments and companies, continues to rise. 

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Can the Belt and Road Initiative Offer New Hope for China’s Rust Belt?

2018 will be a symbolic year for Dongbei, the collective name given to China’s struggling Northeastern provinces of Jilin, Liaoning, and Heilongjiang, which are home to over 100 million people. After battling through funding constraints, coordination problems, and temperature of -40 degrees Celsius, workers will finally complete the flagship Amur Bridge project that connects China with Russia. Labelled as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the bridge is one of several projects seeking to revitalize Dongbei through improved connectivity and trade with Russia’s Far East (RFE) and Northeast Asia more broadly.

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Belt and Road Interview Series: Gordon Orr

We had the pleasure of interviewing Gordon Orr about his views on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Having set up McKinsey's Beijing office in the early 1990s and led their China practice for many years, Gordon has witnessed first hand the rise of Chinese companies both at home and abroad. In this interview, Gordon provides his take on the BRI, the digital silk road, as well as discussing the opportunities and challenges facing Chinese and foreign countries looking to tap into the BRI.

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