Positive outcomes still possible on suspended projects as Chinese FM Wang Yi heads to Malaysia: expert

By Deng Xiaoci Source:Global Times Published: 2018/7/31 22:43:40 Last Updated: 2018/8/1 1:12:56

Negotiations over suspended multi-billion dollar connectivity projects are "almost inevitable" and positive outcomes can still be expected, a Chinese expert said as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Malaysia on Tuesday.

High-level talks between senior diplomatic officials from both sides have been underway in Malaysia since Friday ahead of the 93-year-old Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad's trip to China in August.

Wang began his two-day official visit to Malaysia on Tuesday en route to a meeting of regional ministers in Singapore.

Wang is expected to meet Mahathir during his trip, according to China's foreign ministry.

"Malaysia is China's friendly neighbor and an important cooperative partner in the region," foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at the daily conference on Tuesday.

"China-Malaysia relations have been positively developing in recent years.

"Both sides share strong desires to cooperate and bilateral collaborations have increasingly deepened."

Geng added that Wang will exchange in-depth views with the Malaysian side.

The new Malaysian government has suspended some $23 billion in projects involving Chinese companies, with the Malysian PM emphasizing that the decision was made purely on economic grounds.

It was "almost inevitable" that the two sides conduct talks over the suspended projects, said Xu Liping, an expert on Southeast Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.

Xu told the Global Times on Tuesday that he believes the projects will do great good for the Malaysian people and the country's long-term development.

The projects were only temporarily suspended due to its national debt pressure, Xu said.

Mahathir's visit to Beijing will allow the two sides to renegotiate loan terms and the scale of the projects, Xu noted.

Concessions could be made at both ends of the deal rather than a one-sided compromise in order to reach a final agreement satisfactory for both sides, Xu said.

The Malaysia Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement published on its website on Monday that Malaysia recognizes China has always been a close friend and an important partner.

On Sunday Mahathir told Guo Yezhou, a visiting senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC), that the Malaysian government was willing to deepen its traditional friendship with China, strengthen exchanges between the ruling parties and expand pragmatic cooperation on all fronts, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Guo, deputy head of the international department of the CPC Central Committee, said China attached great importance to China-Malaysia relations and would continue to promote traditional friendship and close exchanges between the ruling parties to boost healthy and stable development of the bilateral relations.

Daim Zainuddin, the Malaysia leader's special envoy who visited China earlier in July, said he expected that his prime minister would be welcomed as an "old friend" of China when he visited Beijing in August, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported on Sunday.

Newspaper headline: Wang Yi expected to meet Mahathir

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