BEIJING - It is time for Malaysians residing overseas to return home and make the country strong again, says the Prime Minister.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said while the salaries they earned might be higher overseas, so was the cost of living.
"(At home), the pay may be lower, the cost of living is lower too.
"Apart from the pay, one must always remember that you grow up in this country (and you are) fortunate enough to study because of this country.
"It's time to pay back," he told some 200 Malaysians at a dinner held in conjunction with his official visit to China.
Also present were his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah and Malaysian Ambassador to China Datuk Zhainuddin Yahya.
There are about 14,000 Malaysians residing in China, mostly businessmen and students.
Asked when meritocracy would be implemented within the government, the Prime Minister said the system could not really determine a person's performance.
"The top is not always the best. Those in the second and third place, if given a chance, (they) can still achieve," he said.
Taking himself as example, he said he was given a chance to study medicine by scoring only 3As in the examination in 1947 whereas his classmates got six, seven or even eight As.
Dr Mahathir also explained to the guests why the government planned to postpone or drop the mega projects backed by China in Malaysia.
It is believed that he will discuss this with top Chinese leaders - namely President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqing - at separate meetings today.
Earlier, Bernama reported that Dr Mahathir began the third day of his official visit to China with a drone demonstration in the capital city.
The outdoor demonstration was carried out by Da Jiang Innovations (DJI) Enterprise, one of the world's largest drone manufacturers, which provides drone solutions for a variety of industries including agriculture, energy, media, construction, infrastructure and public safety.
Accompanied by Saifuddin, Dr Mahathir was briefed by the company's president Roger Luo during the demonstration.
They watched the performance of the Multiaircraft Control Mode MG-1P series with enhanced spraying system which could be used in the agricultural sector.
Its capabilities include a 3km control and video transmission range.
Another demonstration was on Matrice 200, which can perform aerial inspection and collect data.
Dr Mahathir later took a closer look at the drones on display at the company's premises.