KUALA LUMPUR, March 8 (Bernama) — The Malaysian government would make its own independent decisions on China despite Western suspicions of Beijing’s cyber espionage involvement, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
In an interview with South China Morning Post published today, he said fear would not sway both countries’ long-standing relations but instead the end-goal is to work together with China, Malaysia’s largest trading partner.
“Whatever may be our attitude towards China, we have to admit that China is a big power. It is a regional power and we need to deal with them.
“We need to understand their policies and strategies and we have to make adjustments so that we can gain some benefit from China’s policies,” Dr Mahathir said in the interview from Manila where he is currently on a three-day visit.
Dr Mahathir also said the Asean region must have a “common stand” on China and collectively deal with the superpower nation.
The prime minister added that Malaysia has yet to find Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei to be a threat to Malaysia’s national security, but it (Malaysia) is “watching closely”.
The US has restricted the use of Huawei products over national security concerns. According to reports, the US also lobbied allies to do the same.
On Thursday, Huawei, one of world’s largest telecommunications equipment provider and a global leader in 5G technology, filed a lawsuit against the US government over the ban, saying the US has failed to provide evidence to support the ban.
The company also rejected claims it had links to the Chinese government.
Meanwhile, when asked to comment on the debt-trap accusation against China, Dr Mahathir said the Chinese, who were naturally good business people, would “see opportunities and with their capital they want to penetrate areas where before they had no representation or little representation.”
But he said every sovereign state were able to decide if they should take on foreign loans.
“You make that decision, you know capital flowing into the country exerts some influence over the country. So it is up to the countries concerned to make sure that the money flowing into their country is not borrowed money, is not money for infrastructure, but may be limited to money for investment in productive processes,” he said, according to the South China Morning Post report.
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