Xi Jinping seeks ‘cooperation’ as Najib Razak takes swipe at West
Visiting Malaysian prime minister signs US$34 billion in trades deals and pens China Daily editorial warning West to stop lecturing former colonial subjects
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday called on China and Malaysia to deepen mutual political trust and economic cooperation.
In talks with visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Xi called on the two nations to enhance mutual understanding on issues of major concern, without giving specifics.
“China and Malaysia should maintain high-level exchanges, enhance political trust, and continuously understand and support the big issues of each other’s major concern,” Xi was quoted as saying by the state-run CCTV.
Xi also said China welcomed Malaysia’s participation in the “One Belt, One Road” initiatives – China ambitious infrastructure and trade push that would connect Asia with Europe and Africa.
The talks between Xi and Najib came after the two nations signed 14 deals worth US$34.25 billion on Tuesday, and vowed to boost defence, economic and trade cooperation. Malaysia agreed to buy four Chinese naval vessels known as littoral mission ships, one of the 14 deals spanning port construction, gas pipelines and water desalination plants.
Kuala Lumpur and Beijing also signed the framework for the US$13.1 billion East Coast Railway Line project, which will be China’s single largest investment in Malaysia.
Kuala Lumpur is seeking strong relations with Beijing after its ties with the US were soured when the US Justice Department filed a lawsuit implicating Najib in a money-laundering scandal. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Najib is the third leader from an Asean country to visit Beijing recently after Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xhan Phuc in September and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte last month. During his visit, Duterte said Manila would “realign” with China and “separate” from the United States.
While drawing closer to China, Najib implicitly attacked the West in an article in China Daily, saying larger countries should treat smaller ones fairly and former colonial powers should not lecture nations they once exploited.
Najib also toned down his stance on territorial disputes in the South China Sea, where Malaysia also has claims.
“When it comes to the South China Sea, we firmly believe that overlapping territorial and maritime disputes should be managed calmly and rationally through dialogue, in accordance with the rule of law and peaceful negotiations,” he said in the article.
Beijing is spearheading efforts to win over member countries of the Association of Southeast Nations as the United States faces setbacks in its pivot towards Asia strategy.