BEIJING: China’s Transport Minister Li Xiaopeng has “responded positively” to the application by AirAsia Bhd for two new Chinese destinations from Kuala Lumpur.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai told the press after a bilateral meeting with Li that the Chinese minister said he had directed his aviation officers to act on AirAsia’s request to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Nanjing and Wuxi.

“In my bilateral meeting with China’s new Transport Minister, I raised Malaysia-China co-operation issues on aviation, ports and railways,” he said.

Liow, who is also MCA president, said Li was also looking into requests by Malaysia to give Malaysia Airlines a better time slot for its flights between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing.

Currently, the flights are in the evening and arrive in Beijing at midnight while departure time from Beijing is 1.30am.

Malaysia AirCargo has also asked for permission to fly from Zheng­zhou to New Delhi and China Southern Air is to fly to Malacca on daily scheduled flights. These are under consideration by China.

Liow also renewed his call for China to lend support for the development of new deep sea ports at Melaka Gateway and Carey Island.

Li has agreed to support the current port alliance of six Malaysian and 11 Chinese ports to raise competitiveness.

On the Opposition’s allegation that the cost of RM55bil for the East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) had been inflated, Liow said the estimation was still being worked out.

“The details on cost will be transparent. People in the industry know the cost per kilometre, no way will it be overpriced. This rail project will benefit people in the east coast and the country.”

Malaysia signed a deal with China for soft loans totalling RM55bil for the project.

MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said the offer by China to build the ECRL was lower than what Japan and other European countries proposed.