KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 18 — Tun Abdul Daim Zainuddin said Malaysia and China share a long and prosperous history.
Daim was asked how he felt about Malaysia’s relationship with China after a recent letter penned by Chinese ambassador to Malaysia, Bai Tian, was published in various news outlets where he extolled the virtues of the Xinjiang province and how China is an open nation who respects everyone’s religion, including Islam.
Bai Tian said that the Western media are twisting the narrative to portray China as oppressors of the Muslims who live in Xinjiang.
Daim was the prime minister's special envoy who successfully renegotiated the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project with the Chinese government on April 12.
Under the new agreement, construction of Phases 1 and 2 of the ECRL will be resumed at a cost of RM44 billion, a reduction of RM21.5 billion from the original projection of RM65.5billion.
The rail line will have a new alignment which cuts its distance by 40km to 648km and reduces its cost per kilometre from RM98 million to RM68 million.
Seen as someone who enjoys a close relationship with the Chinese and asked to respond on developments in Xinjiang, Daim said: “We don’t have any problems with China. At least I don’t have any problems with them.
“We are still very close friends. We have a long history with China. We know each other very well so there’s no problem.”
Most of the oppressed people in Xinjiang are Muslim Uighurs.
In 2009, rioting in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, broke out as mostly Uighur demonstrators protested against state-incentivised Han Chinese migration in the region and widespread economic and cultural discrimination.
Nearly two hundred people were killed, with experts saying it marked a turning point in Beijing’s attitude toward Uighurs. In the eyes of Beijing, all Uighurs could potentially be terrorists or terrorist sympathisers.