Beijing-KL relationship at its best ever, says Xi Jinping

Both sides hail new Silk Road, agree to boost ties in infrastructure, e-commerce, training

Malaysian Premier Najib Razak met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing yesterday ahead of a forum on the Belt and Road project.
Malaysian Premier Najib Razak met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing yesterday ahead of a forum on the Belt and Road project.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING • Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak described China's One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative - its new Silk Road - as a game changer, in a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday.

In response, Mr Xi lauded Malaysia as an early supporter of the project, asserting that it has become one of the countries that would benefit the most from OBOR, reported Xinhua.

Mr Xi said the China-Malaysia relationship is currently at its best ever and China will advance the comprehensive strategic partnership with Malaysia to further improve bilateral ties.

"I agree with you (President Xi) that Malaysia and China are not only neighbours but are trusted friends," Mr Najib said, asserting that while ties between Malaysia and China were at the highest level, there was scope to further deepen and enhance cooperation.

Later in the day, Mr Najib met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang for a bilateral meeting, where the two countries signed several memorandums of understanding.

Under one agreement, Malaysia's Transport Ministry was to work with China to develop infrastructure such as railways, ports and airports.

The two nations also agreed to cooperate on the mutual recognition of standards and information sharing, encourage the utilisation of local supply chains and facilitate cross-border e-commerce.

China also committed to importing goods worth US$2 trillion (S$2.8 trillion) over the next five years, invest up to US$150 billion in Malaysia and offer 10,000 places for training and studies in China.

Separately, Chinese companies signed an MOU with Malaysian firms to carry out the second phase of the East Coast Rail Link from Gombak to Port Klang, as well as connect a multi-products gas and petroleum pipeline commencing from Malacca to a refinery under construction in Pengerang, Johor.

In an article published in the South China Morning Post last Friday, Mr Najib said he makes no apology for wanting to build world-class infrastructure for Malaysia with Chinese investment, despite opposition politicians' accusation that he was selling the country's sovereignty.

In his article, entitled, "Why Malaysia supports China's Belt and Road", Mr Najib stressed that such projects were "win-win" for both nations, reported Bernama.

Mr Najib yesterday also officially declared Malaysia's willingness to consider China's Dalian Wanda Group as the new master developer for its Bandar Malaysia project, less than two weeks after scrapping an earlier agreement with a consortium of Malaysia's Iskandar Waterfront Holdings and China Railway Engineering Corp.

"I hope there can be a favourable outcome based on mutually accepted terms," he said at a press conference with Dalian Wanda Group founder Wang Jianlin.

Mr Najib is on a five-day working visit to China, where he is expected to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation today and tomorrow.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 14, 2017, with the headline 'Beijing-KL relationship at its best ever, says Xi'. Subscribe