Dr M meets China’s top leaders; major agreements signed

Dr M meets China’s top leaders; major agreements signed

Dr Mahathir and Li Keqiang witnessing the signing of MoU on Bandar Malaysia. Pic by NSTP/ CHOK SUAT LING

By Chok Suat Ling

BEIJING: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, here in the Middle Kingdom after successfully rebooting the East Coast Rail Link deal many believe was part of China’s debt-trap diplomacy, met its top leaders today.

In Beijing for the two-day Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF), Dr Mahathir held discussions with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang, and National People’s Congress chairman Li Zhanshu ahead of the forum tomorrow.

For China to accommodate and arrange for all three – the president, prime minister and congress chairman to have bilaterals with Dr Mahathir is an honour, said officials.

In his bilateral meeting with Xi at the Great Hall of the People, a state building located at the western edge of Tiananmen Square, Dr Mahathir told Xi he was in Beijing to learn more about China’s initiatives.

“I believe they will have an impact on Malaysia.”

He also alluded to the importance of technological development and how this could bridge communications between the East and West.

In his meeting with Li Keqiang at the Diaoyuetai State Guest House earlier, Dr Mahathir witnessed the signing of three significant memoranda of understanding.

They are on enhancing palm oil trade and cooperation; collaboration in the development of industrial parks, infrastructure, logistics hub and transit oriented developments pursuant to the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project; and on the reinstatement of Bandar Malaysia.

The first MoU was signed by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council Board (MPOC) and the China Chamber of Commerce of Import and Export of Foodstuff, Native Products and Animal By-products (CFNA).


Under the MoU, China will buy an additional 1.9 million tonnes of palm oil from Malaysia at an estimated cost of RM4.56 billion over the next five years and invest at least RM2 billion in a biojet fuel plant.

China and Malaysia also agreed in the MoU to work together to encourage the use of the yuan for palm oil trade, pending approval from Malaysia’s central bank.

China is Malaysia’s third-largest palm oil buyer, importing 1.9 million tonnes last year.

Malaysia has been trying to reduce its palm oil stockpiles, which hit their highest in at least 19 years last December, in a bid to shore up prices.

The second MoU signed was between the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) and China Communication Construction Company Ltd (CCCC), while the third was between IWH CREC Sdn Bhd and the government of Malaysia on the reinstatement of the Bandar Malaysia framework agreement.

Later tonight, Dr Mahathir will attend a dinner in his honour hosted by Li Zhanshu at the Great Hall of People.

Tomorrow, the prime minister will attend the much anticipated opening of the BRF.

The forum, themed “Belt and Road Cooperation: Shaping a Brighter Shared Future” this year, is the highest-level dialogue since the vision for the BRI was first shared by Xi.

Representatives from over 130 countries, including about 37 leaders of foreign governments, and thousands of representatives from all walks of life have gathered here for the grand event.

All 10 Asean leaders are present at this year’s forum.


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