Malaysia projects viable and mutually beneficial: China Daily editorial
Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad speaks during an interview with Reuters in Putrajaya, Malaysia June 19, 2018.[Photo/Agencies]
Some remarks made by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad prior to his upcoming five-day visit to China that begins on Friday have raised concerns that the Sino-Malaysian strategic partnership might not realize its full potential.
Referring to the $20 billion East Coast Rail Link and two energy pipeline projects worth more than $2.3 billion, the 93-year-old Malaysian leader said on Monday, “We don’t think we need those two projects. We don’t think they are viable. So if we can, we would like to just drop the projects.”
Work on the projects has been halted pending discussions over the cost amid accusations of graft against the previous administration of Najib Razak, who now faces multiple charges.
For 44 years since the two countries established diplomatic relations, China and Malaysia have conducted cooperation based on integrated interests that have brought immense benefits to both sides. China is now Malaysia’s biggest trading partner, while Malaysia has accumulatively invested $7.58 billion in China, which surpasses China’s investment in Malaysia.
The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative offers new prospects for mutual benefits. The East Coast Rail Link serves as a good example of this. A feasibility study carried out over a period of six years suggests that the project, due to be completed by 2024, will boost regional connectivity and propel the economy of Malaysia’s eastern region — which lags behind the rest of the country — as 5.4 million passengers and 53 million metric tons of cargo are expected to use the 668-kilometer electrified rail service annually by 2030. It is also expected to create 80,000 jobs locally.
It is therefore too hasty a judgment, and one based more on conjecture than concrete facts, to infer that Chinese companies have benefited unfairly at the cost of Malaysia’s interests. Any act to renege on the deals on the unproved premise that Malaysia is being ripped off by China will not only incur heavy economic losses for both sides, but also put the credit of Malaysia in jeopardy as it runs against the spirit of contract.
However, it is normal that even friendly neighbors cannot always see eye to eye on some issues. China and Malaysia have supported each other in times of adversity, and their trade and economic links have never been stronger. Hopefully, the two countries will resolve the issue during Mahathir’s visit.
(Source_title：Malaysia projects viable and mutually beneficial: China Daily editorial)