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Malaysia hopes China will sympathize with its fiscal woes

Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, right, walks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang after reviewing an honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on Aug. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

BEIJING (AP) -- Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says he hopes China will sympathize with his country's fiscal problems as he meets with Chinese leaders after suspending multibillion-dollar Beijing-backed projects in his country.

Mahathir said at a news briefing Monday with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang that he hopes China will understand Malaysia's situation as it deals with a mass of debt and other economic problems created under previous administrations.

Mahathir, a vocal critic of Beijing-backed investment in his country, has tested Malaysia's ties with China by suspending Chinese-backed infrastructure projects.

He's expected to attempt to renegotiate the terms of those contracts during his meetings with Chinese officials.

Days before heading to Beijing, Mahathir said Malaysia wants to cancel a Chinese-backed $20 billion East Coast Rail Link and two energy pipelines worth $2.3 billion.

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