China appreciates Malaysia’s support for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and welcomes Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to attend the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing later this month, Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday.

Wang made the remarks during a meeting with Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob, secretary general of the Malaysian Foreign Ministry. Shahrul is in Beijing to attend the fourth round of strategic consultation between the two countries.

China and Malaysia are “good friends, good neighbours and good partners,” Wang noted, calling it a “tradition” that the two countries support and trust each other. Beijing appreciates Mahathir’s advocation of “Asian values,” he added.

Wang said China is glad to see Malaysia play a bigger role on the international stage and is confident in the development of bilateral ties.

Shahrul said Malaysia highly values its relations with China. Mahathir is looking forward to travelling to Beijing for the Belt and Road forum, he added, calling it a demonstration of Malaysia’s support for the initiative.

Proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, the BRI comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient Silk Road routes.

Malaysia was among the first countries to give a positive response to the BRI, Malaysia’s special envoy to China Tan Kok Wai told Xinhua recently, noting that the incumbent government led by Mahathir has continued the support.

“Malaysia is in strong support of the initiative. And this is why our prime minister repeatedly voices out his confidence and his willingness to continue to actively participate in the BRI,” Tan said.

Mahathir’s upcoming trip to Beijing will be his second visit to China since being re-elected as prime minister last year. He paid an official visit to China last August.

Representatives from over 100 countries, including about 40 government leaders, have confirmed their attendance at the Belt and Road forum next week.