ASEAN Can Benefit From China’s BRI, Malaysian PM Mahathir Says

Malaysian Prime Minister
"When there is a willingness to negotiate with the shared goal of peace, there is hope." He shared during the conference. (Photo: Business Times)

The Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on Tuesday (June 25) reiterated that ASEAN could benefit from participating in Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) proposed by China at the 33rd Asia Pacific Roundtable being held in Kuala Lumpur.

"We in ASEAN can enjoy net gains if the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) can be designed to serve national and regional interests." He said at his keynote speech during the international event.

Mahathir added that "there should be no doubt that the BRI with the full and fair participation of all stakeholders, can be a win-win proposition. National and regional development efforts would then be mutually complementary." 

Mahathir also encouraged ASEAN nations to identify and energies complementary to being generated from connectivity and infrastructure development plans from other countries, including China and Japan.

"If ASEAN does not seize this moment when these initiatives are for the taking, others may do so and in their own ways, or nothing positive may happen at all." He said.

Mahathir proposed that ASEAN nations should change their mindsets "from a lose-lose scenario to a win-win prospect", and the prerequisite for the transformation is "strong political will" among the countries. 

Speaking about the escalating trade tension between China and the US at the moment, he pointed out there will be no winner from the "trade war", and the rest of the world will suffer from the "collateral damage".

Therefore, he suggested that both China and the US should seek cooperation rather than confrontation as the trade war would not benefit anyone.

"Everyone will stand to gain much more when we collaborate with each other, but healthy competition should also be acceptable," Mahathir explained.

He said that the US should accept the fact that China's rapid rising economy.

Particularly, Dr. Mahathir stated "part of China's rise is its expanding global connectivity, which includes electronic and transportation connectivity", which used to be dominated and championed by the US.

Besides BRI, Mahathir also mentioned some issued related to Malaysia's domestic development, Asia Pacific region and the trajectory of global affairs, such as the South China Sea and Rohingya crisis. 

He emphasized that all domestic and international disputes are better handled in cooperation, not confrontation.

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