Xi, Mahathir boost relations

By Deng Xiaoci Source:Global Times Published: 2018/8/21 0:08:39

B&R projects to demonstrate initiative’s benefits to region

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on Monday, with the two leaders vowing to continue to push forward bilateral ties and deepen cooperation.

Xi extended a warm welcome to Mahathir, saying the visit by the recently elected prime minister shows that Malaysia's new government and Mahathir attach great importance to China-Malaysia relations, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Monday.

Xi stressed that China stands firm on upholding its friendship with Malaysia, and he called for the two sides to properly handle existing problems under the principle of mutual respect and through friendly negotiations.

Mahathir responded that his visit shows clearly that Malaysia's friendly policy toward China will not change and China's rapid development is not a threat to Malaysia.

Mahathir also reiterated that Malaysia supports and will actively participate in the China-proposed Belt and Road initiative, as the initiative is designed to enhance regional communication and cooperation, which is beneficial to each and every country in the region.

Earlier on Monday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang received Mahathir at the Great Hall of the People. During their talks the two leaders witnessed the signing of a series cooperation documents in trade, agriculture, finance and technology, CCTV reported on Monday.

Li said during a joint press conference with Maharhir that China will push forward the mutual benefits realized between the two countries, boost bilateral ties to new height, and find new growth in upgrading traditional industries and innovation in new industries, CGTN reported.

The Malaysian prime minister noted that his country can learn a lot from China, as China is a big country with a prosperous market built by very dynamic people. He believes that China's investment in Malaysia could solve some of Malaysia's internal fiscal problems. The two governments also signed a joint statement for strategic partnership on Monday, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Chinese observers hailed the meetings between Chinese and Malaysian leaders, saying it underscores the unwavering mutual trust and friendship between China and Malaysia, and injects new impetus into their pragmatic bilateral cooperation.

"Both sides are aware of the Malaysian side's reassessment of some Chinese infrastructure projects but that won't affect the comprehensive strategic partnership, which is characterized by deep and enduring mutual trust," Xu Liping, an expert on Southeast Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), told the Global Times on Monday.

Zhou Fangye, associate research fellow at the National Institute of International Strategy under the CASS, said that "Mahathir focuses more on practical win-win cooperation, which is consistent with the general idea of the Belt and Road initiative."

Xu believes that the projects, which are beneficial to the livelihood  the Malaysian people and the country's development, will resume after the country fixes its fiscal problems. China will help Malaysia.

The two sides will not only carry on cooperation on infrastructure projects but also work on a wider range of projects, including e-commerce and high-tech agriculture, Xu noted. "Such upgraded cooperation under the Belt and Road initiative between the two countries will demonstrate to other countries in the region" the initiative's mutual benefits."

Boosting trade

The People's Bank of China and Bank Negara Malaysia signed an agreement to renew a bilateral currency swap deal worth of 180 billion yuan ($26.26 billion), to facilitate investment and bilateral trade, which will be valid for three years, according to the Chinese central bank's website on Monday.

"Such renewal on currency cooperation reached between emerging economies could effectively help safeguard their currency and financial security from being affected by the increasingly strong US dollar, and also push forward the internationalization of the yuan," Zhou said.



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