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KOTA SAMARAHAN: Malaysia welcomes the rise of China as a game changer in both geopolitical and economic development.
The growth is seen as an opportunity by Malaysia as it opens up more opportunities for increase in trade with China as it provides market for Malaysian products.
Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said with total bilateral trade worth USD58 billion (RM240.91 billion) in 2016, China remains Malaysia’s largest trading partner.
“As China grew economically, its interests become more global and intertwined with those of a global power such as the US. This entanglement results in multiform ties between China and US,” Anifah said when addressing the ‘Issues and Challenges in Managing Malaysia’s Foreign Relations’ dialogue session at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) yesterday.
He added that Malaysia’s relationship with the US is equally important as the latter is Malaysia’s third largest trading partner while Malaysia is the 18th largest trading partner for the US, with bilateral trade worth USD32.78 billion in 2016.
So how does a small country like Malaysia manage the competing agendas of these two giants?
“We have consistently and strategically maintained good relations with both, unlike some countries. I do not think it would be farfetched to conclude that at this point, Malaysia is one of the countries in the region with strong and stable relations with both the US and China.
“We have been able to do so by openness and honestly, we tell both US and China our views very clearly, and we don’t play off one country against the other.”