China ea­ger to work with Dr M

En­voy keen to en­gage with new gov­ern­ment as soon as pos­si­ble

The Star Malaysia - - Nation - By HO WAH FOON wah­foonho@thes­

PETAL­ING JAYA: China has ex­pressed its de­sire to work with Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter Tun Dr Ma­hathir Mo­hamad soon, amid re­ports that ma­jor Chi­nese projects here will be re­viewed or even can­celled.

“The Chi­nese side would like to en­gage with the new Gov­ern­ment as soon as pos­si­ble to fur­ther pro­mote the co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two coun­tries,” said Bai Tian, China’s am­bas­sador to Malaysia.

In an e-mail in­ter­view, he said: “We are pleased to see Pakatan Hara­pan, led by Dr Ma­hathir, win the 14th Gen­eral Elec­tion. We view this as the choice of the Malaysian peo­ple and we fully re­spect it.”

Chi­nese Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang, he pointed out, sent an im­me­di­ate con­grat­u­la­tory mes­sage to Dr Ma­hathir af­ter he was sworn in as the seventh prime min­is­ter on May 10.

It is be­lieved the Chi­nese Em­bassy had sent a re­quest for a meet­ing with Dr Ma­hathir but there was no re­sponse yet.

Be­fore the May 9 vote, Dr Ma­hathir made pol­icy state­ments that Chi­nese projects here would be re­viewed if Pakatan Hara­pan won.

On Thurs­day, BMI Re­search said the RM55­bil East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), awarded to China Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Con­struc­tion Com­pany via a closed ten­der last year, was a project at risk of can­cel­la­tion.

How­ever, Bai Tian said “China is ready to work closely with the new gov­ern­ment for the sus­tained de­vel­op­ment of our bi­lat­eral re­la­tions”.

“China is will­ing to make con­certed ef­forts to fur­ther pro­mote Chi­naMalaysia ties to new heights,” he said.

On China’s views of the new Prime Min­is­ter, he said: “Dr Ma­hathir is a well-re­spected and long-time friend of the Chi­nese peo­ple. Dur­ing his last ser­vice as Prime Min­is­ter (from 1981 to 2003), he vis­ited China seven times and contributed to China-Malaysia re­la­tions.”

He noted dur­ing Xi Jin­ping’s state visit to Malaysia in 2013, the pres­i­dent had a sep­a­rate meet­ing with Dr Ma­hathir even though the prime min­is­ter then was Datuk Seri Na­jib Tun Razak.

Dr Ma­hathir him­self dis­closed he had writ­ten to Xi then, sug­gest­ing that the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, pro­pounded by the pres­i­dent in 2013, should cover an over­land route link­ing China to Europe.

In fact, China is grate­ful that Dr Ma­hathir has given Beijing sup­port in the face of warn­ings by the West over the “China threat”.

Although Malaysia-China ties were es­tab­lished in 1974 by Tun Ab­dul Razak Hus­sein, it was Dr Ma­hathir who eased the pol­icy to al­low di­rect trade with China that led to it be­ing the largest trad­ing part­ner of Malaysia.

Bai Tian also noted that af­ter Dr Ma­hathir re­tired from of­fice in 2003, he vis­ited China sev­eral times and at­tended fo­rums in China.

“We note af­ter tak­ing of­fice as the Prime Min­is­ter again on May 10, Tun Dr Ma­hathir said he would mainly fo­cus on lo­cal eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, and the new gov­ern­ment sup­ports the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

“He also said Malaysia wel­comes FDI from all coun­tries, in­clud­ing that from China.

“As China opens up wider to the out­side world, more and more Chi­nese com­pa­nies will come to in­vest in Malaysia be­cause of their con­fi­dence in the coun­try,” he said.

Tun Dr Ma­hathir is a well-re­spected and long­time friend of the Chi­nese peo­ple. Bai Tian

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