Putrajaya (People’s Daily) -The Silk Road connects China and Europe and is an important trade route be-tween East and West. President Xi Jinping proposed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to further expand the con-notation of the Silk Road, Malaysian Prime Minister Ma-hathir Mohamad said.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad reacts dur-ing an interview with Chinese media at the Prime Minis-ter's Office in Putrajaya, Malaysia, April 8, 2019. (By Lin Rui/People's Daily)
Mahathir is set to visit China for the upcoming second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) later this month. Southeast Asian countries are important participants in BRI. “We think that China has the opportunity to help develop countries in Southeast Asia,” said the prime minister.
In 1974, Malaysia became the first ASEAN country to es-tablish diplomatic ties with China. “45 years ago we de-cided to establish diplomatic relations, and since then the relationship between Malaysia and China has improved tremendously. Malaysia has benefited because we have a huge market,” Mahathir said.
Bilateral relations and cooperation between China and Malaysia have been developing fast in recent years. China has been Malaysia's largest trading partner since 2009, and total trade reached a record high of $108.6 bil-lion in 2018, China's records show.
Mahathir has visited China many times. He has wit-nessed the achievements since China's reform and opening up. “China has become a very prosperous coun-try and at this moment is the second biggest economy in the world, and I think this is extremely good because China has much to contribute to the development of the world, including developing countries. So I think China has made a very important decision to open up China and join the world market,” Mahathir said
Mahathir was impressed with China's achievements in the field of high technology. “Indeed, China has, in many cases, surpassed other parts of the world. So we feel that China is a good model for us and we can learn a lot from China. I think China's contributions to the world economy is very big.” he said.