Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Friday that he is set to visit China next month to discuss “unfair” terms for several big projects signed by his scandal-tainted predecessor Najib Razak.
Mr. Mohamad, 92, a tough-talking political veteran, said he will also bring up the high interest rates levied on Chinese loans used to finance the projects.
Malaysia’s previous government under Mr. Razak had cultivated warm ties with China and signed a string of deals for Beijing-funded projects.
But critics say many agreements lacked transparency, fuelling suspicion they were struck in exchange for help in paying off debts from a financial scandal that engulfed the state fund 1MDB which ultimately helped bring down Mr. Razak’s regime.
Mr. Mohamad has ordered a review of mega-projects signed by Mr. Razak in a bid to cut the country’s national debt, estimated at $250 billion, and other liabilities.
Malaysia on Thursday announced the suspension of three of its largest China-backed projects — one involving a rail link and two gas pipelines — worth more than $22 billion.
“I want to go to China as early as possible, but the president of China is not available in July so I will go in August,” Mr. Mohamad said at a news conference here.
The interest rate charged on the loans to Malaysia “is much higher than when governments borrow,” according to Mahathir.