Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad may have continuously criticised China investment in the country, but he would rather side with China if forced in trade war against the US, as reported by South China Morning Post.
In an interview conducted by South China Morning Post during Mahathir’s trip to Manila, Mahathir acknowledged that China’s influence through economy is now growing and welcomed in Malaysia.
However, every decision must be carefully thought out, so that Malaysia would not fall victim into China’s debt trap.
“We welcome Chinese investment in Malaysia although it is quite big, because they have money and expertise, but we don’t want them to come and live in Malaysia,” said Mahathir in the interview.
Since Pakatan Harapan became the government last May, the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project has been put on hold after Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng revealed that Malaysia’s national debt has reached RM1 trillion, caused by Najib Razak during his tenure as Prime Minister.
As of today, negotiations with China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) to reduce the previously agreed cost are still on-going.
In addition to this, three China-backed pipeline projects were cancelled in August last year.
Furthermore, Mahathir has also warned Philippines of the same “debt trap” since Duterte’s infrastructure projects will also involve a huge amount of investment from China.
Since the 2016 election, at least 200,000 Chinese have been brought into Philippines, mostly by online gaming firms.
As long as they do not become permanent residents, Philippines will be safe from threats, added Mahathir.
Nevertheless, he admitted that certain China policies are good for Malaysia.
Mahathir’s official visit to China is scheduled at the end of April to resolve several bilateral trade issues.
Will China agree with Malaysia’s demand of lowering the cost for the ECRL project?