China and Malaysia have agreed to "enhance political mutual trust" after Chinese President Xi Jinping dined with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Monday evening.
Mahathir's remarks come as a growing number of global critics are accusing China of practicing "debt colonialism" through its trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, helping to build and finance massive infrastructure projects in developing countries which are then unable to actually support the oversized projects and fall into China's "debt trap" where they are forced to sell ownership to Chinese companies.
Mahathir's visit to China ends tomorrow.
In July, citing their high costs, Mahathir suspended two China-backed projects worth over $22 billion - the East Coast Rail Link as well as gas pipelines - that were approved by Najib, who had pulled Kuala Lumpur close to Beijing.
He said focusing on economic development rather than confrontation should be the way forward in terms of relations between Malaysia and China.More news: Leadership spill declared in Australia
The projects are key components in Mr Xi's signature "Belt and Road" initiative to construct ports, railways and other trade-related infrastructure across Asia, mostly built by Chinese contractors and financed by loans from Chinese state banks.
"Mahathir is anxious about Malaysia's ability to proceed with the projects, but there are also political factors because the projects had been decided by the former government, " Mr Jia said.
Li said China hoped that a further expansion in trade ties with Malaysia would result in greater balance in two-way trade and that China was ready to increase "to a fairly large extent" imports of palm oil and other agricultural produce to meet the needs of Chinese consumers.
He also visited Geely, one of China's biggest independent automakers.
On the South China Sea, both sides underscored the importance of maintaining peace, security, and stability, as well as safety and freedom of navigation in the sea.More news: Move over 'Thriller': The Eagles have No.1 album of all
"We're here to assure the Chinese government and its people that there will be no change in policy", the prime minister said.
Malaysia wants to learn from Chinese manufacturers, Prime Minister Mahathir said, as he encouraged Chinese businesses to invest in his country.
Mahathir is seeking to cut Malaysia's national debt, which has ballooned to some $250 billion.
However Mahathir, who turned 93 last month, offered only a qualified endorsement when Li, addressing him directly, asked whether he believed they had consensus on upholding free trade.
Dr Mahathir noted that Malaysia had had a relationship with China for nearly 2,000 years.More news: Adrian Peterson to meet with Washington on Monday
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