The Embassy of China hopes to meet with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad soon, amid reports that major projects from China in Malaysia will be reviewed.
“The Chinese side would like to engage with the new Government of Malaysia as early as possible, in order to further promote the cooperation between the two countries,” said Bai Tian, China’s ambassador to Malaysia.
In an email interview, he said:
“We are pleased to see Pakatan Harapan led by Tun Dr Mahathir win the 14th General Election. We view this as the choice of the Malaysian people and we fully respect it.”
China's Premier Li Keqiang, he said, sent an immediate congratulatory message to Dr Mahathir after he was sworn in as Malaysia's 7th Prime Minister on May 10.
It is believed that the Embassy of China had sent a request for a meeting with Dr Mahathir, but there is no news up to now.
Before the May 9 election, Dr Mahathir had made policy statements that China's projects here would be reviewed if Pakatan Harapan won.
BMI Research had said the RM55bil East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), awarded to China Communications Construction Company in a closed tender last year, was a project at risk of cancellation.
However, Bai Tian said that “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 China-Malaysia ties to new heights.”
On China’s views of Dr Mahathir, he said: “Tun 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 that during Xi’s state visit to Malaysia in 2013, Xi had a separate meeting with Dr Mahathir even though the Prime Minister then was Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
Dr Mahathir himself has disclosed that he had written to Xi, suggesting that the Belt and Road Initiative, propounded by Xi in 2013, should have larger trains on its overland route linking China, Europe and South-East Asia.
In fact, China is grateful that Dr Mahathir had given Beijing support in the face of warnings by the West on the “China threat”.
Although Malaysia-China ties was established in 1974 by Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, it was Dr Mahathir who eased the policy to allow direct trade with China.
This led to China becoming 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 that 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.”