Dr M says not anti-China, but against lopsided deals

21-Jun-2018 Intellasia | | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad wants to strengthen diplomatic and trade ties with China, but urged the country’s investors to offer more benefits to local players.

In an interview with Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, the 92-year-old said Malaysia will continue to welcome foreign investments, especially from major powers such as China, provided these result in jobs, skills transfer and a larger market for local products.

“I have always regarded China as a good neighbour, and also as a very big market for whatever it is that we produce.

“Malaysia is a trading nation. We need markets, so we can’t quarrel with such a big market,” he told the Alibaba Group-owned newspaper in a recent interview.

He added that his less-than-favourable view of some Chinese-backed deals, deemed overpriced and lopsided against Malaysian interests, did not mean he was hostile towards Beijing.

Dr Mahathir explained that he was instead not in favour of how the deals were structured.

“When it involves giving contracts to China, borrowing huge sums of money from China, and the contract goes to China, and China contractors prefer to use their own workers from China, use everything imported from China, even the payment is not made here, it’s made in China.

“We gain nothing at all. That kind of contract is not something that I welcome,” he reportedly said.

Dr Mahathir pointed out that Malaysia and China had developed “a very good relationship” during his first tenure as the prime minister.

“We have always been in contact with China. In fact, during my time, we developed a very good relationship with China.

“Everywhere I go, people ask me: ‘What do you think about China? Aren’t you afraid?’ I say, ‘There’s nothing to be afraid of.’ We have been neighbours for 2,000 years,” he said.

In the interview, Dr Mahathir lambasted his predecessor Datuk Seri Najib Razak for not being strict enough in approving Chinese-backed projects that did not help advance local interests.

One of his gripes include Johor’s Forest City, a joint venture between the state’s royalty and Chinese property developer Country Garden Holdings worth, RM400 billion.

He said he believes housing units in the project, which are currently being constructed on reclaimed land off Johor, will be unaffordable to most Malaysians and likely to be inhabited by affluent Chinese nationals.

“We don’t want to have whole cities built in Malaysia, have them purchase a big piece of Malaysian land, and then bring in foreigners to stay there. That is what I am against.

“I am against it even if it is from India or from Arab countries or from Europe. Foreign immigrants in huge numbers nobody will welcome, certainly not in Malaysia,” he said.

Dr Mahathir also reiterated his support of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative.

He said he had previously written to Xi, suggesting that “super trains” should be built as it would ply the Asia-Europe route and complement sea trade.



Category: Malaysia

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