Government Adviser Tun Daim Zainuddin called today for the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Industry Ministries be merged to jointly look at how the ASEAN China Strategic Partnership Vision 2030 can be used to improve the transparency of Chinese Projects.

He said Wisma Putra must consider how the declaration, which ASEAN adopted in Singapore last November, could resolve specific issues like making China’s Belt and Road Initiative contracts more effective and transparent in conjunction with the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025.

“They should consult the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. Miti in turn should have thought through the document and consulted others,” Daim said in a speech at the Defence Ministry’s inaugural Perwira dialogue here, indicating that Wisma Putra could take the initiative.

“The more I think of this, the more I am convinced we need a great clearing-house in decision-making on foreign policy involving at least Wisma Putra and Miti. There are examples where the two are combined in a single Ministry, called the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.”

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The ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership Vision 2030 declaration talks about the commitment between the region and China to foster friendly relations, political and security cooperation, economic cooperation and socio-cultural cooperation.

“Continue to promote dialogue and exchanges in maritime economic cooperation through relevant platforms on the basis of the principles of inclusiveness, mutual benefit and respect for international law. This may, where appropriate, include initiatives such as China’s Belt and Road Initiative,” said the declaration.

Critics have claimed that China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative to boost infrastructure and trade with countries from Asia to Africa lacked transparency, worsened China’s partners’ debt problems, and that it was a way for Beijing to enhance its influence and power.

The Pakatan Harapan Government has suspended the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), one of the flagship projects under China’s Belt and Road Initiative here, over concerns it was overpriced.