MELAKA: Melaka could be an important port in China’s plan to develop a 21st century Maritime Silk Road following the good existing relations between Melaka and Guangdong province, said Datuk Seri Idris Haron.
The Melaka Chief Minister said the state’s strategic location in the region could help catalyse trading activity along the route.
“Guangdong’s choice of Melaka as a component in implementing the 21st century Maritime Silk Road shows Melaka’s importance in the initiative.
“History has shown that Melaka was an important port of call in the first Maritime Silk Road trade, even Admiral Zheng He sailed the route seven times and stopped five times in Melaka,” he told Bernama here Friday.
On Sept 21, Melaka and Guangdong signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish friendship and strengthen cooperation between the two parties.
The 21st century Maritime Silk Road is one of two components of the ‘One Belt, One Road’ project, with the other being the ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’, both developed by China, to enhance cooperation among Euro-Asian countries in trade.
Idris said Melaka needs to upgrade its port so it can play a similar role in the 21st century Maritime Silk Road as it did during the Melaka Sultanate era.
“In fact, the Governor of Guangdong Province, Zhu Xiodan, who visited Melaka recently, expressed interest in developing tourism and industrial maritime projects in Melaka.
“With today’s technology, port construction is more efficient and effective mostly using floating platforms.
“Such port construction can be completed in 18 to 24 months and the port can receive ships of over 500,000 tons,” he said.
Idris said Melaka has drawn up a systematic plan to ensure its relationship with Guangdong catalyses the development of the 21st Maritime Silk Road.
“To realise this, the state government formed a Melaka-Guangdong Friendship Steering Committee chaired by me and with government agencies and private companies as members.
“In addition, the state government also created an international trade portfolio which will be placed under the responsibility of the State Transport and Project Rehabilitation Committee Chairman, Datuk Lim Ban Hong,” he said.
Idris said the Melaka-Guangdong relationship has earned the state over RM2 billion through seven MoUs signed by companies from Malaysia and China on Sept 19.
“If the proposed route runs smoothly, we are able to achieve no less than RM10 billion. However, this is not the time to rest on our launrels, as we need to work hard to ensure Melaka is an important component in the 21st century Maritime Silk Road,” he added.