Malaysia

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.
Soldiers fire 155mm howitzers during an annual live fire military exercise in Pingtung, Taiwan, 9 August 2022. (Ann Wang/Reuters)

SEA's great power 'neutrality' risks being pro-China and anti-US

Susannah Patton, director of the Southeast Asia Program at Lowy Institute, asserts that though they seem to be taking a neutral stance, many Southeast Asian countries’ responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and increasing US-China tensions on Taiwan have in fact affirmed narratives that are implicitly more critical of the US and other G7 countries. This may help to shape a regional environment that is far too permissive of aggression and coercion — the precise scenario that the countries hope to avoid.
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.
Balconies at a compound in Sihanoukville are covered with iron grilles to prevent escapes.

Chinese scam rings in Cambodia drawing recruits from Southeast Asia

Cambodia is one of Southeast Asia’s fastest growing economies, but it has also become a hotbed of Chinese telecoms and online scams targeted at mainland Chinese in recent years. Most of the scam rings based in Sihanoukville recruit mainland Chinese, but have also started to bring in Chinese from Southeast Asia and Taiwan. Once duped into joining their firms, these workers are trapped and forced to work as online scammers. Lianhe Zaobao journalist Daryl Lim visited Sihanoukville in May to get a better picture.
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.
The Bakun Dam in 2009. (Wikimedia)

Building dams in Sarawak: Can China and Malaysia ensure sustainable hydropower development?

ISEAS academic Tham Siew Yean notes that it is a win-win situation for Sarawak and China to co-develop dams and produce hydropower for domestic use and export. However, more can be done to safeguard environmental sustainability standards, especially if China means to change its image as a sustainability laggard.
Protesters carrying a large Ukrainian flag and heading to a protest against Russia's war in Ukraine, walk by a mesh depicting an artistic view of Vladimir Putin's portrait, featured in an anti-war exhibition near the Russian Embassy, in Bucharest, Romania, 30 April 2022. (Octav Ganea via Reuters)

Why some Malaysian netizens are pro-Russia and support Putin

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Malaysia’s social media has been abuzz with discussions on the conflict, with different groups expressing both condemnation and support for Russia. Academics Benjamin Y.H. Low and Munira Mustaffa examine pro-Russian sentiments and unpack them for possible explanations for why such views prevail amongst Malaysians, including factors such as religious affiliation, impressions of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and an anti-Western mindset.
A woman gets a shot of Sinovac coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine at home, administered by a healthcare worker in Sabak Bernam, Malaysia, 1 July 2021. (Lim Huey Teng/Reuters)

China has conducted an enthusiastic vaccine outreach in Malaysia. Can the US buck up?

While the Pfizer shot is the vaccine of choice in Malaysia and anchors the national immunisation programme, China’s Sinovac vaccine is readily available. Though perceived to be of lower efficacy, China's vaccine remains crucial in curbing the global spread of Covid-19, especially in poorer countries. Malaysian academic Peter Chang examines how American and Chinese vaccines have been distributed and administered in Malaysia and around the world, and looks forward to greater involvement from the US.
A woman receives the Sinovac Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Denpasar, Indonesia's Bali island on 2 September 2021. (Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP)

Has China done well in its vaccine diplomacy in Southeast Asia?

China has supplied 190 million doses of its homegrown vaccines to Southeast Asia. However, although there has been sporadic support, perceptions of Chinese vaccines among the public in the region largely trend negatively, suggesting a non-linear relationship between China’s vaccine diplomacy and its soft power in the region. ISEAS researchers Khairulanwar Zaini and Hoang Thi Ha discuss the complex factors affecting vaccine hesitancy in six Southeast Asian countries — Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.