Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim made a pitch for China to reinvigorate its Belt and Road Initiative, as he urged for collaboration among countries.
“Translating lofty ideals into practical reality, solidarity and cooperation is best exemplified in the realization of the Belt and Road Initiative,” Anwar said in a speech at the Boao Forum for Asia on Thursday. “With the pandemic behind us, we should try to regain its momentum.”
Anwar’s call for revival of China’s infrastructure collaboration with developing nations marks Malaysia’s efforts to reengage with the world’s second-biggest economy, which emerged from the pandemic late last year.
Anwar said countries must guard against competition in the technology and semiconductor industries from raising costs and obstructing progress, as nations seek to protect their intellectual property rights and stay ahead of rivals.
“Let me reiterate that unfettered competition must give way to spirited collaboration,” he said.
Anwar is on a state visit to China through April 1, during which he will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping as part of efforts to reinvigorate relations in the post-pandemic era, according to a statement from Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday.
China has been Malaysia’s largest trading partner since 2009. Total trade between the two nations touched 487.13 billion ringgit (about $110 billion) in 2022. China was also the top investor in Malaysia last year, contributing 21% of the $59 billion investments the nation approved in 2022.
Anwar’s visit to China is the first by a Malaysian leader since ex-prime minister Mahathir Mohamad’s trip in April 2019.
Anwar has traveled to Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Cambodia since becoming prime minister, seeking to boost economic ties and his standing among Malaysians after years of political instability.