China Is Outsourcing Its Cities on Man-Made Islands in Malaysia
Forest City is a Chinese development with room for 700,000 residents being built across a string of man-made islands just off the coast of Malaysia. Since Malaysia and Singapore are separated only by a narrow strip of water—they were a single country until 1965—the $100 billion development is marketed chiefly as Singapore-adjacent. Promotional materials call it a “global cluster of commerce and culture,” as if it pledges allegiance to no country at all, and note that a new light rail system will connect it to the nearby KLSR.
In the sales showroom, the city’s sheer size was on display in its glitzy scale model, which itself was nearly big enough for a child to lumber through like a marauding Godzilla. The model’s twisty silver condo towers were strewn with hanging gardens and purple LED lights, lending it a hip moon colony vibe. Several had SOLD OUT signs hanging across their facades.
I rubbernecked my way through three- and four-bedroom model apartments at the heel of a sales associate named Fancy. Fancy was from China’s Guangdong Province and outfitted in a retro-trendy kebaya. Nothing escaped her laser pen: high-backed armchairs, bejeweled throw pillows, all-clad kitchenware. Floor to ceiling windows overlooked an electric-blue sea. On a living room’s wall-mounted TV, a promotional video featured Chinese couples saying things like, “Many ethnic Chinese live here. For us, it’s more like we’re living in our hometown than a foreign country.”
This is Forest City’s pitch in a nutshell: Live in China, but in Singapore... in Malaysia. As an American business owner working in Southeast Asia told me, “There are a lot of Chinese who don’t want to live in China, but they still want to live in ‘China.’” Forest City is “like a Chinatown,” as one retiree from the gritty factory city of Hangzhou brightly remarked to the Asia Times, explaining why she’d purchased a bungalow there.
Malaysia has accommodated inflows of Chinese immigrants in the past. In the middle of the 19th century, soldiers fighting in the Crimean War and the Civil War sent demand for canned foods soaring. Malaysia had some of the world’s largest tin deposits, and the country invited Chinese laborers in to excavate its tin mines. By the late 1800s, it was the source of half the global tin supply. Over the years, thousands of these Chinese workers settled in Malaysia permanently, becoming restaurateurs, opium den proprietors, and canning tycoons. Today, Chinese is the second-largest ethnic group in the country, though the government is loathe to grant full citizenship to new arrivals.
Instead, it created the uniquely generous Malaysia My Second Home visa (MM2H), which grants nearly unlimited entry to expats with sufficient disposable income, short of providing citizenship. MM2H has made Malaysia one of the easiest nations on earth to move to. Good for 10 years and a breeze to renew, it’s effectively a pass for permanent residency. Its main requirements are a bank account with about $120,000 in liquid cash and a monthly offshore income of approximately $2,500, a low bar to clear for a lifelong stay. In 2016, 44 percent of the visa’s successful applicants were Chinese.
17 hours ago
As long as the migration is peaceful and welcomed by the Malaysians, it is none of any other nations business!
15 hours ago
I am a Malaysian, and to confirm "This is a Fake news" only an Anti-China news.