Monday, January 18, 2021

Why is Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysian PM, Adopting Anti-Chinese Stance?

Mahathir Mohamad, the new Malaysian PM might have put China’s OBOR projects in Malaysia on hold but can Malaysia afford to ignore China? One Belt One Road project of China worth USD 20 billion have been stalled by Mahathir Mohamad after he came to power following the elections in May.
The previous regime in Malaysia was quite keen to have China invest in Malaysia under the One Belt One Road project. Several bilateral agreements were made under the previous government. But ever since Mahathir Mohamad came to power, he has put all of these projects under review and has even quashed some of them. He has scrapped the high-speed rail link project between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore which was to be funded by China.

Mahathir Mohamad has his priorities sorted

Mahathir Mohamad has prioritized the pursuit of reducing Malaysia’s huge national debt. So, following this direction he has resisted any such projects which were agreed upon by the former PM, Najib Razak and mount Malaysia’s national debt even more. Hence, projects of USD 20 billion by China have been put on ice by Mahathir Mohamad. This scrapping off of the Chinese projects come as a big blow to China’s One Belt One Raod initiative. Can Malaysia actually afford to irk China without any damage control?

Is Malaysian PM’s visit to China for Damage Control?

The Malaysian Prime Minister is expected to visit China in August. He is expected to be in China anytime between August 13 and August 21. He will look to ease out and build on the relations between Malaysia and China despite putting China’s projects in jeopardy. As per diplomatic sources, the exact dates and the duration of his Beijing visit is still undecided.

Experts dealing with Malaysia-China ties suggest that this visit is being initiated by Mahathir Mohamad for he realizes that China cannot be ignored. He has vehemently opposed the accusations against him for being anti-China. He has stated many times that his objection to Najib Razak’s sanctioned infrastructure projects with China must not be seen as an opposition to the Chinese government.

In the past few days, Malaysia has put 3 infrastructure projects backed by China on hold. These include the East Coast Rail Link which was to be constructed by Chinese Communication Construction Company and two pipeline projects which were to be constructed by China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau. Yet if Malaysia can maintain good ties with China, it will be an impressive win for Mahathir Mohammad.

More News at EurAsian Times

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