Dr M in China from August 17 to 21

Justin Ong
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad meets China’s top diplomat Wang Yi (left) at his office in Putrajaya August 1, 2018. — Bernama pic

UALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will visit China for four days starting August 17 on the invitation of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Wisma Putra said today.

Accompanying him will be Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok, International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking, Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub, Entrepreneurship Development Minister Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof, and de facto law minister Datuk VK Liew.

Also going are Perak Chief Minister Ahmad Faizal Azumu and the prime minister’s wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Ali.

“During the visit, the prime minister will be visiting Hangzhou and Beijing. In Hangzhou, the prime minister is scheduled to meet provincial leaders, undertake a visit to Alibaba Group Corporate Headquarters and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.

“In Beijing, the prime minister will be meeting Premier Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping respectively to discuss bilateral issues as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest,” Wisma Putra said in its statement.

The trip will be Dr Mahathir’s first to China since becoming the seventh PM, although he has been to the country seven times officially during his previous stint in power.

Wisma Putra said the visit will set new strategic pillars to invigorate the future cooperation between the two countries, but did not say if this will include discussions on several local infrastructure projects awarded by the Barisan Nasional government to Chinese firms.

Dr Mahathir was previously reported as intending to seek China’s agreement to cancel at least three such projects — the East Coast Rail Link and two gas pipeline projects — due to suspicious payment structures.

Added attention is also on the visit to gauge Malaysia’s future stance towards China.

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had been especially enamoured with fostering ties with China, while Dr Mahathir is seen as less accommodating due to his previous remarks on Malaysia’s engagement with Chinese firms.