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Friday, September 22, 2017

Why is China so blase about Singapore invitation to participate in the KL-SG HSR tender?

Singapore first invited China to participate in our KL-HSR tender in June 2017 by our FM Vivian but China ignored our invitation.

Then, our PM Lee invited China again in September 2017 during his China visit.  However, China has not responded to our invitation again.


Well, China is considering whether to give face or political credit to SG for allowing China to participate in the KL-HSR.  Why am I saying this?  This is because China is a strategic thinker and has a strategic tactic to undertake the KL-SG HSR without going through SG.  Therefore, it will only take part in the project under Singapore invitation out of good faith or when it wants to give political credit to SG.

If you understand the BRI, you will know that China gives preferential treatment to Laos which is an inland country without any port.  China is helping Laos by turning it into a land transhipment hub where goods and people are transported to its neighbouring countries by railways and HSRs.  Therefore, Laos will adopt China HSR system in reciprocation.

What about the BKK-KL HSR?

Thailand had given the internal HSR (BKK-Chiang Mai) to Japan because Japan gave a lot of concessions to Thailand.  Meanwhile, the cross-border HSRs from BKK to China and Laos were given to China.  Thailand has to maintain 2 different HSR systems now instead of one.

Malaysia had indicated its preference for China HSR system for the cross-border BKK-KL HSR.  Will Thailand adopt a 3rd HSR system for this BKK-KL HSR? I don't think so because it is expensive and difficult to maintain 3 different HSR systems.  Therefore, Thai is likely to adopt the China HSR system as requested by Malaysia.

When the BKK-KL HSR system is adopting the China HSR system, Malaysia will also want to adopt the same system for the KL-SG HSR because it's easier and cheaper to maintain 1 HSR system instead of 2.  Therefore, it is likely that Malaysia will impose the China HSR system on KL-SG HSR unless SG gives a lot of concessions to Malaysia to adopt a different HSR system.  SG is at the losing end because it is at the end of the HSR and is only responsible for the 15km HSR system on its own land.

Malaysia can insist on building the HSR from KL to JB using the China HSR system and leave SG out of it under the worst case scenario because SG cannot have a say on Malaysia land.  Malaysia will just let SG decide on its own HSR because Malaysia also cannot have a say on Singapore land.

This is the reason for China to be blase about our invitation as China has a strategic tactic to undertake the KL-SG project without going through SG.  SG is only responsible for 15km of the HSR on its own land and is making a lot of noise about the HSR but Malaysia is so quiet about the HSR when it is undertaking 335km of the HSR.  Let's see whether China will give face to SG and participate in the HSR project under our invitation out of good faith.

1 comment:

Eric Ho said...

Another reason that the China is insouciant about our invitation is China doesn't trust SG because SG may stab China in public by awarding the HSR project to another party. Therefore, it's safer not to accept SG invitation and undertake the HSR project without going through SG.