A sweet and sour economic menu
The talking point in business and investment circles in Malaysiya currently is about the US$100 billion Chinese-made City near Singapore ‘Scares the Hell out of Everybody’.
Situated in the Iskander Malaysia zone around Johor Bahru known as JB the project is on a desert of dirt that stretches into the distance, filled with cranes and piling towers that the Chinese developer is using to build a $100 billion city in the sea. The scale of the projects is dizzying. Country Garden’s Forest City, on four artificial islands, will house 700,000 people on an area four times the size of New York’s Central Park. It will have office towers, parks, hotels, shopping malls and an international school, all draped with greenery. Construction began in February and about 8,000 apartments have been sold, the company said.
In clostly examing this investment and others by China in Malaysiya, one cannot but ponder of the potential the Chinese see in Sri Lanka in the Galle Face megacity project and the similarities of development of land through sea reclamation, and mutual economic benefits.
Analysts have commented that for most of Europe the powerhouse is Germany which supplies most manufactured goods, a reason why Chancellor Angela Merkel is committed towards the European union and single currency to spread its business. So is China for most part of the world, and now opening towards South Asian Markets. In this backdrop analysts opine that that Sri Lanka should walk the talk and open out both to the West and China and welcome them in a positive investment climate.
Country Garden, which has partnered with the investment arm of Johor state, launched another waterfront project down the coast in 2013 called Danga Bay, where it has sold all 9,539 apartments. China state-owned Greenland Group is building office towers, apartments and shops on 128 acres in Tebrau, about 20 minutes from the city center. Guangzhou R&F Properties Co. has begun construction on the first phase of Princess Cove, with about 3,000 homes.
The visitors filed into a vast sales gallery where agents explained the enormity of the project using a replica of the finished town, with model buildings as tall as people. They viewed show flats with marble floors and golden-trimmed furniture, dined on a buffet spread and were encouraged to sign on the spot. A two-bedroom apartment costs as little as 1.25 million yuan ($181,400), about one-fifth of the price of a similar-sized private apartment in central Singapore. Bloomburge too has noted these developments with interest.
“The Chinese are attracted by lower prices and the proximity to Singapore,” said Alice Tan, Singapore-based head of consultancy and research at real-estate brokers Knight Frank LLP. “It remains to be seen if the upcoming supply of homes can be absorbed in the next five years.”
Meanwhile, India has raised concerns over the rapid growth of China in terms of regional investments. According to international reports, China’s rapid investments in countries such as Nepal, Myanmar and Coco Islands has threatened the Indian the progress of India in its economic battle for regional supremacy. Accordingly, China is now seeking to become a dominant power in the sub-continent, offsetting India.
Analysts have pointed out that though China cannot influence the region directly by political means, it has begun employing its economic lever.
“It has enhanced its investment in Nepal aiming to reduce Indian influence and migrated to Sri Lanka. Its investments in Myanmar and base in Coco Islands are designed to counter Indian domination in the Indian Ocean.