The business community should look out for investment opportunities in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) routes as total investments led by China are estimated to rise four to five fold from the initial US$1 trillion (RM4.2 trillion), says Datuk Fu Ah Kiow.

The Star Media Group (SMG) Chairman said this in his welcome address at the Malaysia-China Outlook Forum hosted by SMG on Monday (July 8).

“China’s vast market has provided tremendous opportunities in trade, investment and business. Its deepening economic reforms and further opening up, coupled with its BRI programmes and globalisation policy, have opened up new investment opportunities and spurred the emergence of new trading zones, particularly along the BRI routes.

“In a recent international research report, it was said that the BRI programmes could attract Chinese and global investments totalling US$4 to 5 trillion, much higher than the initial estimate of US$1 trillion when the BRI was launched in 2013 by China’s President Xi Jinping,” Fu said in his speech.

In July 2016, The Economist UK reported that China had said it would invest a total of US$4 trillion (RM16.8 trillion) along Belt and Road countries.

Fu explained that SMG organised the forum mainly because “we understand many people – particularly the business community and professionals – are keen to learn more about China”.

He noted Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been supporting the BRI since it was announced.

Dr Mahathir has stated Malaysia will continue to benefit in investment and trade, as well as tourism, brought about by the BRI and close bilateral relations.

Back in April, Malaysia revived the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project and the Bandar Malaysia project.

“The revival of these two huge China-linked projects, which are key BRI projects vital to boost Malaysia’s economy, clearly shows that our Government values our ties with China and is determined to enhance economic relations further,” he said, adding China has been Malaysia’s key economic partner.

China has been Malaysia’s top trading partner for the past ten years, with bilateral trade breaching US$100 billion (RM420 billion) again last year, according to Chinese data that captured Malaysia exports via Hong Kong and Singapore.

In recent years, China has become an important source of foreign direct investment (FDI). Malaysian statistics show that China has been the largest FDI in its manufacturing sector for three consecutive years, having created some 73,500 jobs for Malaysians.

The SMG chairman also noted Chinese capital has contributed to the growth of the local property sector.

According to property consultancy Knight Frank, the local property market recorded an inflow of Chinese capital of US$43.8bil (RM181bil) in the past 10 years.