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.
An Asian Monetary Fund was first mooted by Japan during the Asian Financial Crisis in the late 1990s, but did not quite take off then. Now, with Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim resurfacing the proposal during his recent trip to China, is the prospect of an AMF more likely today than it was 26 years ago?
Caixin sat down for an exclusive interview with Malaysia’s new Minister of International Trade and Industry Tengku Zafrul Aziz on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, in January. He spoke about Malaysia's and ASEAN's relations with China, and his thoughts on regional and global trade.
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.
Malaysian researcher Liew Wui Chern explains why geographical dictates and long-held principles mean that Malaysia’s foreign policy is unlikely to change drastically under Anwar, at least for now.
While it faces stiff competition from countries in the region such as Vietnam, Malaysia stands in good stead to win high-quality investments from Taiwan.
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.
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.
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.