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Malaysian Prime Minister backs Belt and Road Initiative

Malaysia stands ready to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said at a meeting in Kuala Lumpur with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday, and hailed the Initiative for providing common development and prosperity.

The prosperous growth of China means more and greater opportunities for Malaysia, which is also advantageous to regional peace and prosperity, Mahathir told Wang at their meeting, according to the Chinese foreign ministry website.

The 93-year-old Malaysian leader is looking forward to visiting China soon and manifesting the new Malaysian government's determination to promote Malaysia-China relations. Mahathir is scheduled to visit Beijing in August, Reuters reported.

Mahathir welcomed Chinese companies, especially high-tech firms, to increase their investment in the Southeast Asian country, while Wang described the prime minister as "an old and good friend of the Chinese people."

In choosing China as the country for his first official visit outside the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Mahathir was demonstrating the great importance he attaches to China and the amicable feelings he has towards China, Wang said.

Wang expressed his appreciation for Mahathir's support and participation in the Belt and Road Initiative.

The Initiative will not only facilitate Malaysia's development and open up even greater prospects for mutually beneficial cooperation, but also contribute to a rejuvenated and prosperous Asia, Wang said.

"Mahathir's positive comment on the Initiative as well as his upcoming visit to Beijing so soon after he won the election in May effectively dismiss the perception that the new Malaysian government is drifting apart from China diplomatically," Gu Xiaosong, an expert on Southeast Asian studies at the Guangxi Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

Mahathir's visit would focus on bargaining over certain projects to comfort the Malaysian people, Gu believed.

The decision to suspend China-linked multi-billion infrastructure projects could also have won time for Mahathir to sort out domestic conflicts including the previous leader's alleged corruption, he said.

Qian Feng, a senior research fellow at the National Strategy Institute of Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Wednesday that Mahathir's decision to halt the projects should not be conceived as a shift in diplomatic policy but as part of the country's domestic political conflicts and the new government's corrective moves against the previous.

The projects under the Initiative will hopefully be revived, Qian said, as they will bring Malaysia better development prospects and opportunities.

They will carry on at "Mahathir rhythm" instead of under the terms approved by the former Malaysian leader, he said.

During the meeting between Wang and Mahathir, the two also exchanged views over ongoing trade frictions between Beijing and Washington, according to the foreign ministry.

They reached a consensus that there is no winner in a trade war, and China, Malaysia and other regional countries will firmly advance the building of an East Asian Economic Community, safeguard legitimate development rights and the unity of emerging economies.

Source:Global Times  Editor:lirui

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