No change in Malaysia's policy on Beijing, says Mahathir

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and China’s Premier Li Keqiang attend a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing

The message from the Malaysian government to businessmen is clear: No more cronyism and no more "kautim" (Cantonese for "all settled") culture.Speaking to Malaysian businessmen assembled in Beijing, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad told them that simply winning over the prime minister was no longer any guarantee that their pitch will come to fruition.

"We also hope to get China to understand the problems we face by Malaysia today".

However, Dr Mahathir has vowed to discuss the "unfair" deals on his visit.

Without giving any specifics, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV quoted Xi as telling Mahathir that their nations should "properly handle the existing problems based on the principle of mutual respect and friendly consultation". In July, his government suspended the East Coast Rail Link, which was being built by China Communications Construction Co with an estimated price tag of 81 billion ringgit (US$20 billion). Some of that money has already been paid and could be hard to recoup. "We are now trying to deal with bigger 'ah long'", he said.

The cancellation of projects in Malaysia would create huge losses for the Chinese partners involved, said Jia Duqiang, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Science's Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies.

Answering a question from the floor, the prime minister underscored that the new government of Malaysia under his leadership would not allow corruption in the Malaysian business environment.

Dr Mahathir is seeking to renegotiate, and perhaps cancel, billions of dollars worth of Chinese-invested projects entangled in domestic graft probes.

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China has been careful in addressing Mahathir's statements since he took office in May, describing the elder statesman as "an old friend of the Chinese people" and praising his "support and participation" in the Belt and Road Initiative, a global trade and investment program championed by Xi. Seated at right is Jack Ma. The company owns 49.9 percent of Proton, a Malaysian automaker.

Mahathir has said warships should be removed from the South China Sea.

"They are more powerful, and we can not fight against them", he said.

A 2002 declaration of conduct by claimants has "no fangs", and China's continued militarization of the area could escalate regional tensions, Saifuddin told Parliament.

According to Chinese statistics, bilateral trade between China and Malaysia rose 10 per cent previous year, and stood at $US96.03 billion.

In an interview with CNN last month, Mahathir, who still voiced doubts over China's "spreading influence through money", said that Malaysia has to accept the reality of a dominant China in the region and can not go to war with Beijing over the South China Sea.

The U.S. Justice Department alleges Low was a key figure in the theft and global laundering of $4.5 billion from Malaysia's 1MDB investment fund by associates of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

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