Photo of Melaka Gateway from Malaysian Government

China and Malaysia has just commenced construction of a new S$14 billion off-shore trading port in Malacca, in an aim to replace Singapore as the main trading port in South East Asia. Called the Melaka Gateway, the trading port is part of a slew of trading agreements including a S$17.8 billion East Coast railway line during Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak’s 7-days-long visit to China in early November.

The new trading port will be a joint venture by state-funded companies Malaysia’s KAJ Developments and China’s PowerChina International. Construction of Melaka Gateway will involve the land reclamation of three off-shore islands off the Malaysia’s coast and is scheduled to complete by 2025. According to projections, 100,000 shipping vessels will dock at the port, without having to stop by the monopoly route held by Singapore over past few centuries.

The China investment is however met with sarcasm by Singapore media, with state propaganda media Straits Times calling it a “military strategy” to secure the South China Sea. In their article coverage, Straits Times attempted to sow discord by quoting anonymous sources claiming China is reducing reliance on the Malacca Straits with alternative piping means through Myanmar and hence suggesting that Malaysia should not think too much about the investment.

Malaysia and Philippines are concurrently warming up with China by giving in to China’s claim on the South-China Sea in exchange for economic development. During the APEC summit held in Peru, China President Xi Jin Ping declared that China will open up greater economic cooperation with the world – in stark contrast to United States.