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Malaysia will steer clear of the geopolitical tensions between China and US: PM

Publish date: Sat, 15 Jun 2024, 07:54 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has affirmed that he will avoid being entangled in geopolitical tensions between China and the United States and resist being coerced into choosing sides.

While emphasising the importance of Malaysia's interests foremost and maintaining productive relations with China, Anwar in an interview with the South China Morning Post, said Malaysia is not looking to provoke the US or align with unilateral actions taken against other nations.

"The intention is never to antagonise anyone more. The US is an important country, trading nation, and a superpower.

"But we take our position that Malaysia is an independent country, and as I've said repeatedly, it is fiercely independent. Thus far, we are able to navigate it well, but we shall see."

Asked if he was concerned about retaliation by the US, as Malaysia had been quite pragmatic about doing business with China, Anwar replied; "We continue to engage. Enough of this hectoring and condescending attitude.

"So far, the region, particularly Asean, seems to be generally smart, navigating based on our own interests. We listen, we are prepared to continue to engage, but we will not be subjected to any unilateral action.

"If they have compelling evidence to suggest that any company or any country is causing mischief, then all right, they should adduce evidence. Otherwise, we will not succumb to that sort of pressure.

"It is no longer neo-imperialism or colonial rule. We are an independent nation prepared to accept the stark new realities. I'm not going to say it is simple, but that seems to be our position and thus far we have not encountered serious problems."

On the Malaysia-China relationship, Anwar said it had been good.

"After I assumed the premiership, we have made it very clear and I think the relations have gone to be excellent, I should say both with President Xi Jinping and with Premier Li Qiang.

"We have continued engagement, discussion, frank and I value that. We have also agreed to expand the relations into various fields that will benefit both countries, particularly Malaysia, digital energy, additional training, artificial intelligence (AI) and in all fields.

"I would say that the relationship has been great because China is willing to accommodate and listen to some of our concerns about training, about getting Malaysians to be involved more.

"We take our position clearly and I am of course impressed with the fact that the Chinese leadership supports this and they value this friendship through frank exchanges and we even make sure that our demands in terms of protecting our interests are met."

On China's long-standing South China Sea territorial dispute, Anwar said; "We all have problems with our neighbours.

"But what's with this obsession… the tendency to exaggerate the problem, border issues with China.

"We (Malaysia), Thailand, Brunei and Indonesia all have problems with our neighbours. We have not actually cemented agreement in all areas with the borders. But does it mean that it is tension and there is tension or causing difficulty in relations.

"So, why then pick and choose and exaggerate the issues with China?," Anwar said.

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