Author Topic: Malaysia gives a big jolt to China's One Belt, One Road projects  (Read 295 times)

adroth

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Malaysia gives a big jolt to China's One Belt, One Road projects
AFP|
Updated: Jul 12, 2018, 08.17 PM IST

Malaysia was once a loyal partner in China's globe-spanning infrastructure drive but a new government is now pledging to review Beijing-backed projects, threatening key links in the much-vaunted initiative. Kuala Lumpur's previous regime, led by scandal-mired Najib Razak, had warm ties with China and signed a string of deals for Beijing-funded projects, including a major rail link and a deep-sea port.

But the long-ruling coalition was unexpectedly turfed out of power last month by voters disgusted at allegations of corruption and angered at rising living costs.

Critics say many agreements lacked transparency, fuelling suspicions they were struck in exchange for help in paying off debts from a financial scandal which ultimately helped bring down Najib's regime.

The new government, led by political heavyweight Mahathir Mohamad, has pledged to review Chinese deals seen as dubious, calling into question Malaysia's status as one of Beijing's most cooperative partners in its infrastructure push.

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Adding to China's woes, Mahathir has a clear preference for Beijing's rival Japan, and last week went to Tokyo for his first foreign trip since taking office.

During the visit, the 92-year-old signalled ties with Beijing would cool: "We will be friendly with China, but we do not want to be indebted to China."

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