China-ASEAN Monitor: Chinese-backed megacity project in Malaysia delayed due to COVID-19

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Chinese-backed megacity project in Malaysia delayed due to COVID-19
(7 July 2020) The US$100 billion Forest City megacity project in Malaysia’s Johor state is expected to be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sales of property products to investors has dropped 90% since March 2020, while development work such as reclamation works have slowed down considerably. According to a regional news outlet, the project is struggling to attract buyers due to the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic. The 1,740 hectares project is two-thirds owned by Chinese property giant Country Garden, with the remaining one-third owned by a Malaysian entity. The megacity project is a mix of residential, leisure, commercial, and industrial spaces, and will also include its own customs facility enabling residents who work in Singapore to commute back and forth on a daily basis. Despite this recent development, however, property sales in Malaysia for the second half of 2020 is expected to be less severe due to the government’s recently introduced home ownership campaign.
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Singapore Exchange to cooperate with Chinese investment banking firm to bridge financial markets
(8 July 2020) Singapore Exchange signed a memorandum of understanding with Chinese investment firm China International Capital Corporation (CICC) to explore cooperation in the fields of investment banking, equities, private equity, asset management, wealth management and research. Both sides hope to capture the business opportunities through deepened interconnection, cross-border capital movements, and Chinese firms hoping to access Singapore’s capital market. The partnership hopes to benefit from CICC’s knowledge in domestic and overseas markets, and experience in cross-border business.
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Chinese logistics giant BEST Inc to expand into Cambodia, Malaysia, and Singapore
(7 July 2020) Chinese smart supply chain solutions and logistics services giant BEST Inc has expanded its operations into Cambodia, Malaysia, and Singapore following previous launches in Vietnam and Thailand in 2019, the company announced on 2 July. BEST Inc hopes to build an efficient logistics network in Southeast Asia, and plans to operate 12 sortation centres and around 400 service stations across Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore over the next three years. This includes operating two customised and high-tech flagship sortation centres in Phnom Penh and Kuala Lumpur. According to the logistics company, its total parcel volume from Southeast Asia reached 8.8 million units in the first quarter of 2020.
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Thailand Tourism Ministry targeting certain Chinese provinces for Phuket “tourism bubble”
(4 July 2020) Thailand’s Tourism Ministry have stated they will target certain provinces in China for a “tourism bubble” campaign for Phuket. The campaign will only target Chinese provinces which have managed to contain COVID-19. Phuket is to lead the planned foreign tourism bubble campaign with selected partner countries as well. The primary target is China due to the shorter travel time, although other markets being considered include South Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. Thailand welcomed almost 40 million foreign tourists in 2019 but this year, the country’s central bank expects only 8 million foreign arrivals due to COVID-19 restricted travel.
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Alibaba plans to open third cloud data centre in Indonesia in 2021
(3 July 2020) Chinese tech giant Alibaba plans to open a third cloud data centre in Indonesia by 2021, thereby expanding its presence in the Indonesian market. The first centre was built in 2018 and the second, in 2019. According to Alibaba Cloud, a subsidiary of Alibaba, the latest data centre would minimise risks of data loss by dividing the workload between the three centres. A data scrubbing centre would also be built alongside the new data centre in Indonesia. The location of the third centre, however, was not disclosed by Alibaba. Rivals Google and Amazon are also planning on expanding their cloud service subsidiaries in Indonesia, which is considered as the single largest digital economy in Southeast Asia.
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