Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Adam Minter

Malaysia Is Fed Up With Chinese Cash

Belt and Road funding has become a bitter election issue.

Too much of a good thing?

Too much of a good thing?

Photographer: Ore Huiying/Bloomberg

Chinese President Xi Jinping won't be on the ballot when Malaysians vote for a new government on Wednesday. But he is on election billboards. Although it's probably not a role that Xi would've chosen for himself, China's influence on Malaysia's economy has become one of the most bitterly contested issues in a bruising campaign.

That's certainly awkward for China, which presents itself as a champion of economic development around the world. Increasingly, though, its vision isn't shared. In Malaysia and elsewhere, popular opposition to Chinese investment is rising, driven by the perception that its benefits flow only one way. In that sense, Malaysia's election should be a wakeup call.