Ngeow Chow Bing

Ngeow Chow Bing

Director, Institute of China Studies, University of Malaya

Ngeow Chow-Bing is the director of the Institute of China Studies at the University of Malaya. His research interests include China’s political reforms, organisation and management of the Chinese Communist Party, and China-Southeast Asia relations. He was previously a special senior research fellow of China’s National Institute for Global Strategy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (2017-2020) and his articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals such as China Review, Journal of Contemporary China, Contemporary Southeast Asia, and China: An International Journal. He is also the editor/co-editor of Zhenghe Forum: Connecting China with the Muslim World (2016), Southeast Asia and China: Exercises in Mutual Socialization (2017), Rising China, Resilient Japan, Resourceful ASEAN: Selected Writings of Lee Poh Ping on East Asian International Relations (2018), and Researching China in Southeast Asia (2019).


Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his Chinese counterpart Li Qiang shake hands during a bilateral meeting held at the Liyuan Guest House, 17 September 2023. (fotoBernama)

Anwar's China trips: Is Malaysia putting China before the West?

Malaysia Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim made his second visit to China in September to attend the 20th China-ASEAN Expo just months after his last visit in March. While Anwar has repeatedly insisted that Malaysia’s relations with the US and other Western countries remain strong, his active engagement of China draws questions over Malaysia’s emphasis in foreign policy.
People walk past a monument to Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin and a coat of arms of the Soviet Union in a park in Moscow, Russia, 8 August 2023. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

What US and China can learn from the Sino-Soviet Cold War

The most common analogy for the US-China rivalry is the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union, but Malaysian academic Ngeow Chow Bing thinks that the Sino-Soviet rivalry in the 1960s could also offer a lesson or two for the US and China, especially in staying ideologically flexible and maintaining communication between competing nations.
Malaysian PM Anwar Ibrahim during his visit to China. (Prime Minister's Office of Malaysia)

PM Anwar's civilisational approach to the Malaysia-China relationship

Given the "civilisational lens" through which Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim views Malaysia-China relations, Anwar probably agrees more with the pluralistic vision contained in China’s Global Civilizational Initiative than the binary vision of “democracy versus autocracy” popular in Washington today.
Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia's prime minister, speaks during an interview in Singapore, on 30 January 2023. (Ore Huiying/Bloomberg)

Anwar's China policy

While it is still unclear if the Anwar Ibrahim administration has a clear China policy in place, the general trajectory is a positive posture towards China. Even so, the relationship can be expanded and strengthened beyond economic numbers to channelling the benefits of cooperation to local SMEs, and broadening cooperation to areas where the prime minister has shown great personal interest, such as inter-civilisational dialogue.
People select lanterns for the Mid-Autumn Festival, Malacca, Malaysia, 4 September 2022. (Xinhua)

Upward trend of new Chinese migrants in Malaysia likely to continue

The current population size of new Chinese migrants in Malaysia is estimated to be 82,000. Although the Covid-19 pandemic has slowed down the influx of these migrants, it is expected that the pause is temporary and the inflow will continue to increase in the long term. However, while latent anxiety about these migrants has emerged among Malaysians, it has not yet become an explosive issue in Malaysian politics.
Local residents ride past pro-Taiwan independence flags in Taipei, Taiwan, on 6 August 2022. (Sam Yeh/AFP)

The 'one China' policy of Southeast Asian countries

Academic Ngeow Chow Bing takes stock of the "one China" policy of Southeast Asian countries, noting changes in interpretations over the years and their subtle differences from China's "one China" principle and the US's "one China" policy. He warns that US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has exacerbated cross-strait tensions and could further limit Taiwan's international space in Southeast Asia.
A general view of the city skyline in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 2 February 2021. (Lim Huey Teng/File Photo/Reuters)

China’s divided image in Malaysia

In a recent poll conducted by Malaysia’s Merdeka Center and the Institute of China Studies at the University of Malaya, public perception of China seems to have improved slightly from the last time a similar survey was done in 2016. That said, opinions are divided among ethnic groups and hinge on a few deciding factors.