Liu Jinsong, Deputy Director-General of the Department of International Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said before the introduction of the MSR, China and ASEAN had been carrying out a series of cooperative projects together, including the twin parks namely Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park and China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park.
Liu said China viewed ASEAN as an important region to jointly build the MSR, and he expressed confidence that Malaysia, which has assumed the ASEAN Chairmanship this year, would be capable of further improving the relationships between ASEAN and China.
“We believe the ten-member bloc will be the first to benefit from the initiative,” he said, adding there would be plenty of opportunities for ASEAN and China to work together to jointly build the MSR.
On the intention behind the MSR's funds worth US$40 billion, Liu said it was to finance major infrastructure projects along the centuries-old trading routes.
Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein had earlier raised questions on China's intentions behind the MSR fund.
China's Belt and Road initiative including the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and the MSR were mooted by its president, Xi Jinping, with the SREB concept aiming to boost cooperation with countries across Asia, Europe and Africa, while the latter aims at promoting maritime cooperation with its neighbouring ASEAN countries.
China has also expressed interest in building the high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
Beijing-based Caixin magazine earlier reported that state-owned China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) would likely to win the bid for the railway project as it offered the lowest price and the shortest project construction time.
Other companies that have shown interest to bid for the project included East Japan Railway Company, Alstom of France and Siemens AG of Germany, the financial news publisher said.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak earlier said the government expected the open bidding system to be very transparent as companies from all over the world are free to participate.
Apart from the railway project, Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said recently that Malaysia had identified a few ports to be included in the MSR initiative which is expected to help boost Malaysia's economic development.