In meeting with Alibaba boss, Malaysia PM courts Chinese help in digital economy
By Campos Santiago Source:Global Times Published: 2018/6/18 21:43:40
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad met Jack Ma Yun, founder of Alibaba Group, in his office on Monday, where he said that his government welcomes Chinese investment in Malaysia, according to a statement Alibaba sent to the Global Times.
During the one-hour meeting, Mahathir praised China's progress in digital technology and expressed the view that Malaysia needed to learn from China's success and strengthen bilateral relations. He also welcomed Chinese companies to invest in Malaysia and help local companies upgrade their export capabilities.
Ma offered to help Malaysian companies upgrade their technology, and he also praised the 92 year-old Mahathir after the meeting.
"I am surprised by his knowledge about technology," he told Malaysian news agency Bernama.
The meeting was the first between the new Malaysian leader and a Chinese investor since his recent election. While relations suffered after Mahathir decided to postpone a China-led proposal for a high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, analysts agreed that Malaysia needs strong economic ties with China to achieve its goals.
"Mahathir has a very clear economic plan for Malaysia. He understands the digital economy is very important for Malaysia, and that is an area where Chinese companies are strong," said Ge Hongliang, research fellow at the Charhar Institute and the College of ASEAN Studies at China's Guangxi University for Nationalities.
"Malaysia's economic base is stronger than most other countries in ASEAN, so it is well-placed to take advantage of the digital economy," Ge told the Global Times on Monday.
Ma was in Malaysia for the opening of Alibaba's first office in Southeast Asia, located in central Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia is a key market for Alibaba, which launched a Digital Free Trade Zone last year as part of its electronic World Trade Platform initiative.
In the six months since its launch, 2,651 Malaysian companies have participated in the project, which has cut the time required to clear customs from one day to three hours.
Ma also reportedly met with Malaysia's Finance Minister Lim Guang En for an informal dinner.
Experts said that Ma's visit is a sign that bilateral economic ties will continue to strengthen.
"Alibaba started to invest heavily in Malaysia during the Najib era, and this meeting signals Mahathir supports Alibaba's project," Xu Liping, a senior research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told the Global Times on Monday. "He is very interested in technology and new economy companies," he said.
"Mahathir just said he wants to reassess Chinese investment. The general trend toward closer economic ties between China and Malaysia is irreversible," said Xu.
Newspaper headline: Alibaba agrees to deepen economic ties with Malaysia
Posted in: COMPANIES
In meeting with Alibaba boss, Malaysia PM courts Chinese help in digital economy - Global Times