Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is on an official visit to China, said Malaysia can provide some of the needs of the new rich people in China.
“China’s growth is much welcome to us because it means that Chinese are richer. Malaysia is a trading nation, and we like to have our partners rich.
“China’s consumption will need supplies from outside, and Malaysia can provide some of the needs for the new rich people in China,” he said in an interview with Xinhua news agency.
Dr Mahathir said China needs the world as its market. China also needs to have imports from the rest of the world.
The prime minister said he also attached importance to closer people-to-people ties between the two countries. “I think Chinese tourists will come in great numbers to Malaysia,” he said, noting that “there is a historical link between China and Malaysia.”
Dr Mahathir has never been anti-China but he wants to change the rules of the game in the South China Sea and in the deals the previous Najib Razak government made with Beijing.
According to Dr Mahathir, Najib’s government was desperate to survive. They clung to China in the hope Beijing, flush with money, will help the BN government out of its numerous troubles.
But when they lost the elections and Dr Mahathir took over on May 10th as the new PM, he revoked most of the deals Najib made with China.
China has become Malaysia’s largest trading partner since 2009, and the largest source of foreign direct investment in manufacturing in the past two years.
Mahathir, who had on several occasions stated his support for the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative since assuming office, told Xinhua that he had suggested building a special railway between China and Europe along the ancient Silk Road.
The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, proposed in 2013, aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes, Xinhua wrote.
Mahathir said it was very important to maintain regional peace and stability which was key to propelling prosperity and people’s well-being in the region.
“So for Malaysia, we look to China to help maintain peace in this region,” he said, “China will play a big role because it is a powerful country.”
“They have been able to acquire or develop their own technologies which is at par with the technologies available in other parts of the world,” he said. “They have even gone so far as being able to put man in space, that is a remarkable achievement because it was done in very quick time.”