China’s Xi suggests Malaysia has ‘preferred’ status


PETALING JAYA: It’s never a bad thing when an economic and military superpower praises ties with Malaysia, more so when it comes with the promise of “preferred” status.

That’s just what China President Xi Jianping said in a meeting with Prime Minister Najib Razak yesterday.

Praising Malaysia’s early support for China’s One Belt, One Road (Obor) initiative, Xi said, as a result, Malaysia is now one of the countries that will benefit the most from Obor, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.

Xi also lauded the closer ties between both countries, especially following Najib’s official visit to China last November which resulted in the signing of agreements worth about RM150 billion.

Meanwhile, Najib agreed with Xi on the ties being the closest it has ever been, and described the Obor initiative as a game changer, with greater scope for further expansion of the cooperation between both countries.

According to Singapore’s Straits Times, Najib also met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang for a bilateral meeting, where the two countries signed several memorandums of understanding (MoU).

One of the MoUs involved the transport ministry getting China’s help in developing infrastructure such as railways, ports and airports.

China has committed to two major infrastructure projects in Malaysia, namely the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) and the Melaka Gateway ports project.

Also, Chinese companies signed an MoU with Malaysian firms to carry out the second phase of the ECRL 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, ST reported.

China is also said to have committed to US$2 trillion (RM8.7 trillion) worth of imports from Malaysia over the next five years, aside from offering 10,000 places for training and higher studies in China to Malaysians.

Last week, Najib wrote in the South China Morning Post of his China move, saying it was positive for Malaysia in terms of the investment and world-class infrastructure that is being built in the country.

He dismissed accusations by opposition politicians, that he was selling out the country’s sovereignty to China.

In the article entitled “Why Malaysia supports China’s Belt and Road”, Najib said such projects were “win-win” for both nations.

Najib is one of 28 world leaders in China attending the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation which ends today.