25 June 2018
Malaysia’s new prime minister shows signs of a bolder approach to his country’s disputed claim in the South China Sea, where Beijing now exerts the most control.
Mahathir Mohamad, who took office last month after a surprise parliamentary election victory, wants Malaysia to hold onto the five islets it now controls, he told the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post in an interview reported last week. He hopes maritime claimants take warships out of the sea to reduce tension, he added.
Mahathir, who previously led Malaysia for 22 years, wants to balance China’s investment, especially in infrastructure projects, with income from other countries and ensure the government avoids getting too close with Beijing, analysts say.
“There’s this mood of reaction against China in terms of the Belt and Road Initiative, so I think this re-calibration of Malaysian foreign policy on the South China Sea dispute is just part and parcel of it,” said Alan Chong, associate professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.
CMS / GPO / Online
Last updated on 28/06/2018