In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative, the Centre of Regional Strategic Studies (CROSS), in collaboration with the Pusat Khidmat Rakyat Dun Bukit Batu and the Southeast Asia Research Centre for Humanities (SEARCH), successfully organized the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) 10th Anniversary Nationwide Tour: Round Table Meeting and Seminar on 7 December 2023  at the Forest City Marina Hotel in Johor.

As the third stop of this nationwide tour, the Johor BRI event took place at the Forest City Marina Hotel in Johor. The event was officiated by YB Lee Ting Han, Johor State EXCO for Investment, Trade and Consumer Affairs, and Mr. Lin Shiguang, Minister Counsellor (Political Affairs), the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Malaysia, accompanied by YB Tuan Arthur Chiong Sen Sern, ADUN Bukit Batu

The seminar focused on the theme “New Economic Zone: An Emerging Center of Gravity of BRI” and was open to the public. This seminar aimed to explore and deepen BRI cooperation potential between China and Malaysia’s Southern Region, with a special focus on Johor. It delved into the fields of the economy, trade and investment, and human capital development. Johor and Singapore, strategically located at the centre of the 21st-century maritime Silk Road, anticipated that the special economic zone would attract high-value investments along the BRI countries and foster collaboration between BRI and Non-BRI countries and regions under the third-market collaboration mechanism.

The seminar drew in 100 stakeholders and aimed to explore and strengthen BRI cooperation potential between China and Malaysia’s Southern Region, specifically focusing on Johor.

During the opening ceremony of the forum, YB Lee mentioned that the Johor Singapore Special Economic Zone is poised to be the next centre of growth for Johor and the region. This initiative should be able to complement the BRI in the sense that both work on the basis of regional cooperation, leveraging on the strengths of Johor and Singapore, as well as potentially the wider region covered under BRI.

Additionally, YB Arthur mentioned in his speech that he believes Johor stands a better chance to attract high-quality investments from both BRI and non-BRI regions as the state is located strategically at the heart of Southeast Asia with favorable political and economic conditions, as well as well-developed infrastructure.

Mr. Lin mentioned that in September of this year, His Majesty The Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar,met with Ambassador Ouyang Yujing, expressing a commitment to enhance incentives for high-quality China-Malaysia BRI cooperation. His Majesty hopes for deeper collaboration in the digital economy, artificial intelligence, infrastructure, and other sectors, and welcomes Chinese companies to invest in Johor.

Thanks to our speakers, Mrs. Gan-Low Mei Leong, head of Economics and Investment at Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA); Mr. Eugene Roy Joseph, founder of Joseph Chambers; and Ms. Josephine Lee Mei Li, the Managing Director of Builders Group PLT, for their interesting talks about the special economic zone between Johor and Singapore.

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