The OBOR (One Belt One Road) is China’s grandiose plan to revive the ancient Silk Route. It was unveiled in 2013 by Chinese president, Xi Jinping who proposed to create the world’s largest platform for economic, social and cultural cooperation. The proposed coverage area of OBOR encompasses 130 countries around Asia, Europe, Oceania and East Africa. An estimated investment of around $5 trillion’s needed to serve a population of 4.4 billion and command a share of whopping 30% of global economy.
Malaysia is one of the countries in Asia Pacific who will benefit most from the China OBOR Policy as it is strategically located in the centre of the Asean connecting one of the largest growing economy in the region with China fastest growing economy.
On May 13, 2017, Malaysia Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had signed 9 bilateral agreements with China during his five-day visit to China, including the Business-to-Business Memoranda of Understanding in various sectors, including construction, agriculture, financial market, infrastructure and investment cooperation worth US$22.7bil (RM31.26bil).
Most of these projects required large scale of local and foreign manpower by the Chinese investors. It is estimated that more than 250,000 skilled and unskilled manpower will be needed within the next three years (2018-2020). The Chinese investors have requested at least 40% of the manpower from China due to lack of communication and skilled factors.
In terms of manpower support, InterManpower will be working very closely with Malaysia Ministry of Human Resource (Jabatan Tenaga Manusia- JTM) to identify and train Malaysian skilled graduates required by the Chinese investors and at the same time working closely with the various Chinese government committee to help its Chinese investors in recruiting and managing skilled Chinese manpower to Malaysia.
Among the 15 projects will be implemented in Malaysia are:
Prime Minister Li Keqiang had given assurance that the Chinese government would continue supporting Chinese companies to invest in Malaysia.
The OBOR initiative has been categorized into two parts:
The ‘belt’ refers to the ‘Silk Road Economic Belt ‘which is land based. It will connect China with Central Asia, Eastern and Western Europe.
The ‘road’ refers to the ‘21st Century Maritime Silk Road’ which is sea based. It will connect China to South-East Asia, Africa and Central Asia.
The Silk Road Economic Belt will offer 3 major routes connecting China to Europe (via Central Asia), the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean (through West Asia), and the Indian Ocean (via South Asia). While the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road is planned to create connections among regional waterways. These corridors will have energy and industrial clusters comprising of rail, roads, waterways, airways, pipelines, and information highways to promote development in the areas. There are six main corridors:
Besides the above Corridors, the Maritime Silk Road would run from the Chinese Coast through Singapore to the Mediterranean.
OBOR is a major way for China to expand their manufacturing capacity to developing countries.
The OBOR is the outcome of the need to bridge the ‘infrastructure gap’ across the Asia-Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe. Also China as the ‘World’s Manufacturer’ is seeking newer markets to absorb its excess production capacity. But its ultimate goal is to shift from low level manufacturing to higher level infrastructure goods i.e. high speed rail, energy generators and telecommunications equipment and markets which will find many takers in Asia and Europe rather than developed countries.