China, Malaysia's largest trading partner, is keen to play a bigger role in Malaysia development and is eyeing resource-rich Sarawak as one of its investment destinations.
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said China was keen to expand its footprint from investments in a pulp and paper mill and an aluminium smelter in Sarawak.
"It now wants to be more actively involved in the construction scene as well as in industrial parks in Sarawak," he told a media briefing after a bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Commerce Minister Chen Denming.
Both ministers signed an agreement in Putrajaya earlier in the day, on expanding and deepening economic and trade cooperation.
Both countries will set up a joint working group within the next month or so, to identify and coordinate projects.
Mustapa said China had active presence in 10 economic sectors in Malaysia.
China's investments have been sizeable in the area of infrastructure such as the Penang Second Bridge and it is also playing an important role in growing the Malaysian solar energy sector.
"We would like to see China play a bigger role in our services sector too," he said.
The China-Asean FTA, which came into effect last year, pushed up bilateral trade to a record US$74.3 billion (RM219.93 billion) in 2010.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA) director general Datuk Jalilah Baba said foreign direct investments from China were expected to jump 10 times this year.
"Two companies are scheduled to announce their plans in the next four months while another four companies are also expected to do the same later this year - to an accumulated RM6.2 billion, from RM600 million in 2010."
According to MIDA, Chinese businesses invested in 43 projects in Sarawak last year to a tune of RM3.9 billion. Of the total, RM3 billion was invested in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy or Score.
Apart from the agreement signed between the trade ministers, four other agreements were also signed.
They include between DiGi Telecommunications (M) Sdn Bhd and ZTE Corp for the supply of network infrastructure, engineering, procurement and construction contract for a coal-fired power plant between Janakuasa Sdn Bhd and China Huadian Engineering Co Ltd and human capital development programme between Multimedia Development Corp Sdn Bhd and Dream Catcher Consulting Sdn Bhd with Huawei Technologies (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.