We welcome deals with China that promote fair trade, job creation, says Leiking

International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking.

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia will support business deals with China that promote fair trade and create jobs, International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking said, describing bilateral ties between the two countries as robust.

He said the resumption of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project and enthusiasm for telecoms group Huawei underscored Malaysia’s interest in doing such deals with China.

Speaking to South China Morning Post (SCMP) on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing yesterday, Leiking said the government’s earlier request for a review of ECRL’s project cost had at times been misrepresented as distaste for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

However, he said the resumption of the project at a reduced cost of RM44 billion, from RM65.5 billion previously, and a visit to Huawei’s Beijing office by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday showed the robustness of bilateral ties.

“Contrary to naysayers and all those who negated all our good intentions, we’ve proven that we’ve always remained close,” said Leiking, who attended the forum with Mahathir and several other Cabinet members.

He said the RM21.5 billion reduction on the original ECRL deal showed it was possible to enforce clear parameters for BRI projects – “that you must not have any abuses, you must not inflate prices and you must not hurt (both) economies”.

On Huawei, Leiking said Malaysia did not have the same national security worries the Americans had about the company.

“There is no issue when it comes to national security for us.

“That is more towards America, which has made allegations against Huawei. They know something that we don’t.

“But as far as we know, Huawei has been very open and they are not being forceful either,” SCMP quoted him as saying.

He stressed, however, that Huawei would have to follow “rules and regulations” to take part in Malaysia’s eventual rollout of the 5G telecommunication network to make work and play faster and more efficient.