China is a valuable trading partner, said Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Friday. He said that trade ties between China and Malaysia would be maintained as the former was the nation’s biggest trading partner. Malaysia also draws big investors from China, he noted.

“When we first established ties with China, it was then still a Third World country. But now China has made tremendous progress, and this influences our relationship,” he said.

Tun Dr. Mahathir said he will be going on a working visit to China in April and one of the main focus was to look at the Asian giant’s Belt and Road Initiative. Dr. Mahathir said;

“We will state our stand & state our support although China is on a different level now”

While in Beijing, Dr Mahathir will be attending the One Belt One Road summit, said Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke.

“In the past few months, many have expressed concern about Malaysia’s relationship with China,” he was quoted as saying by news portal The Malaysian Insight.

“I can say here that although Malaysia has seen a change of government, its foreign policy concerning China remains the same.”

Malaysia’s relationship with China has come under the spotlight after Dr Mahathir’s Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition won the general election last year.

After coming to power last May, Dr Mahathir, a critic of China’s investments in Malaysia, vowed to renegotiate or cancel what he calls “unfair” Chinese projects authorised by his predecessor Najib Razak, whose near-decade-long rule ended in electoral defeat amid a massive financial scandal.

Two pipeline projects with China costing RM9.4 billion (S$3.12 billion) were among a handful of China-funded mega infrastructure projects entered into by the previous Barisan Nasional government that was scrutinised by the new administration in a bid to tackle state debts totalling over RM1 trillion.

The pipeline projects were cancelled after the PH Government found that only 13 per cent of the works had been completed despite nearly 90 per cent of the project sum being paid out.

Dr Mahathir’s administration is also looking to scrap the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) amid a series of conflicting statements by ministers on the status of the controversial RM81 billion project, which was meant to link the east and west coasts of Peninsular Malaysia.

Late last month, Dr Mahathir said his government has not made any decision regarding the ECRL.

“At this moment, no final decision has been made. Some decisions were made but we have to find a better solution,” he had said. “We are still negotiating.”