Unexpected Malaysian election result could spoil Chinese Belt & Road

A stunning win by the opposition bloc in Malaysia’s general election on Wednesday could have implications for the Southeast Asian nation’s ties with China, a major investor.

Read: Who is newly elected Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad?

Mahathir Mohamad, a former Malaysian prime minister who led his opposition alliance to victory over the ruling coalition, said Thursday the country could renegotiate several agreements that had been struck with China.

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Mahathir said he had no problem with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a wide-reaching infrastructure investment program, but added that “we would not like to see too many warships in this area, because [a] warship attracts other warships,” Reuters said on Thursday.

Read: Analysing Malaysian Elections Result

Those comments come on the back of warmer ties between Malaysia and China in recent years under the administration of Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Malaysia was the fourth-largest recipient of China’s overseas direct investment last year, a 2017 report from the Economist Intelligence Unit said. That compared to the country’s position of 20th place in the 2015 ranking.

That came as China seeks to expand its influence overseas, spurring concerns internationally about the reach of the Chinese Communist Party.

Mahathir took issue with vast mainland Chinese investments under Najib’s administration during his campaign, arguing that his country has been selling out to Beijing.

In Malaysia, a number of major port and rail projects have been scheduled for development. A Citi report estimated they would receive as much as 400 billion ringgit ($101 billion) in Chinese investments over the next two decades.

The Alibaba-led Digital Free Trade Zone, also regarded as part of the BRI, was established in Kuala Lumpur earlier this year in a bid to improve trade between China and the Southeast Asian region.



Source: CNBC

Chetna Maibam, Kayra Watson
The Kootneeti Team - Beijing Watch


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