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Malaysia - China Relations post GE14: Moving Ahead

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Malaysia - China Relations post GE14: Moving Ahead Columnists

Malaysia - China Relations post GE14: Moving Ahead.
Author: Dato majid 
The results of the14th Malaysian General Elections held on 9th May , 2018 saw the formation of a new Government in Malaysia under Pakatan Harapan with Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad as the 7th Prime Minister. This would be Tun Dr. Mahathir ‘s second tenure as the Prime Minister after serving 22years from 1980 to 2003. What would be the directions of Malaysia-China relations under the new Mahathir Administration is the frequently asked question nowadays.
In my view, fundamentally, Malaysia-China Relations wil continue to be close, strong and substantive. For Malaysia , China’s economic and strategic importance to her cannot be underestimated. China too, has made it clear the importance of Malaysia as a friendly and trustworthy neighbour.
It is to be noted too that Tun Dr. Mahathir is no stranger to China. It is no exaggeration to state that it was Tun Mahathir that laid the solid foundation of Malaysia -China relations into what it is today. I have the honour and previlige to serve as the Malaysian Ambassador during this period, and witnessed first hand, the policies and efforts of Tun Dr. Mahathir in deepening Malaysia - China colloboration , particularly  in the economic sector and people to people exchanges. Tun Dr. Mahathir in a recent interview, reaffirmed Malaysia China relations would be strong and indicated his intention to visit China as the earliest time possible. Ambassador Bia Tian has also called onTun Dr. Mahathir during which Tun Dr. Mahathir reaffirmed investments from China will continued to be welcome and expressed the expectations of further growth in pragmatic bilateral cooperation.
We are also aware at the same time on Tun Dr. Mahathir and his Administrations’ declaration that some of the projects from China would be reviewed. Malaysia viewed the agreements on some of these projects as one sided and not in Malaysia’s interest, in particular the East Coast Railway Line. It is only fair and right that Malaysia has insisted on such reviews and possible renegotiations. But such review must be conducted in an objective manner.
In the spirit of the friendly ties between the two countries, it is suggested that the two governments enter into an earlydirect dialogue on Malaysia’s grievances , particularly the ECRL. Further an early exchange of visits by the leaders of the two countries to be considered. Such exchanges would provide a positive signal in resetting relations that has been tainted by the previous administration and boost confidence.
Going forward , for Chinese companies and investors , there is a further need to better understand and appreciate Malaysia’s real needs, financial capabilities, local sensitivities and interest to ensure mutual trust and benefits in proposing projects in Malaysia.
It is my understanding that both Malaysia and China are committed to continue and further consolidate the existing excellent relationship. Malaysia has over the decades managed her relations with China very well and have benefitted from such a policy in many respects.Under the current evolving economic and geopolitical landscape, I am confident that Malaysia relations with China under current Mahathir Administration, will continue to be robust and broaden based on a win win formula and mutual benefits.
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