Chinese influx in PH needs 'rethinking' if it influences economy: Mahathir

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 07 2019 11:48 AM | Updated as of Mar 08 2019 10:45 AM

Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad speaks during an interview with Reuters in Putrajaya, Malaysia June 19, 2018. Lai Seng Sin, Reuters/File

MANILA -- Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said governments hosting foreign workers should "rethink" their policy if the expatriates become huge enough to influence the economy.

Mahathir, who is on an official visit to Manila, was asked about the influx of Chinese workers in the Philippines, an issue that has prompted a Senate investigation.

"Foreign direct investments should not involve bringing huge number of foreigners to live in the country because that might disturb the political equations in the country," the 93-year-old Mahathir told ANC's Cathy Yang.

"So long as they're not going to be permanent residents, it's not a danger to the Philippines, but if huge numbers of any of our foreigners coming to live and stay in the country or even influence the economy of the country, then you have to do some rethinking as to whether it is good or bad or the limits that you have to impose on them," he said.

Asked about concerns that countries around the world risked falling into a debt trap with China, he said: "This is something that China has been accused of but it is also the country's concern, which can regulate or limit this influence from China."

"If you borrow huge sums of money from China and you cannot pay, when a person is a borrower, he is under the control of the lender. We have to be very careful with that," he said.

Mahathir last year canceled 2 major Chinese government-backed infrastructure projects in his country worth over $20 billion, including a railway and 2 gas pipelines, saying his government might not be able to pay the debt back.