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China has the opportunity to help develop SE Asian countries under BRI: Mahathir

25.04.2019, 19:40 7048
China has the opportunity to help develop SE Asian countries under BRI: Mahathir
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad reacts during an interview with Chinese media at the Prime Minister's Office in Putrajaya, Malaysia, April 8, 2019. (By Lin Rui/People's Daily)
The Silk Road connects China and Europe and is an important trade route between 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 Mahathir Mohamad said.
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 establish diplomatic ties with China. "45 years ago we decided 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 billion in 2018, China's records show.
Mahathir has visited China many times. He has witnessed the achievements since China's reform and opening up. "China has become a very prosperous country 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.
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