Mahathir Mohamad is bucking China, as promised. Malaysia’s newly re-elected nonagenarian prime minister was in China on Friday for talks on whether to revise – or to cancel outright – a number of commercially dubious Belt and Road Initiative projects. After his shock electoral victory in May, Mahathir quickly made good on campaign promises to curb China’s growing influence in Malaysia, most notably by suspending some $22 billion in China-backed infrastructure projects, including a flagship rail link. Beijing allegedly secured the terms of the project by bribing Malaysia’s previous government. Mahathir’s visit will shed light on how Beijing plans to address growing concerns in BRI-targeted states about predatory lending practices.
Mahathir’s visit comes as China continues to grapple with the question of whether its assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region is causing more problems than it solves. On Wednesday, Kyodo news agency reported that authorities in Fujian provinc