AUKUS: Hishammuddin to make brief visit to China

It is aimed to seek the views of the Chinese govt on the issue, defence and other related matter

 pic by BERNAMA

DEFENCE Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (picture) said a brief visit to China will be on the cards, amid debates on the Australia-UK-US cooperation (AUKUS) recently.

He said the visit is aimed to seek the views of the Chinese government on the issue, defence and other related matters.

“I also plan to make a brief visit to China soon and one thing we need to get is the views of the Chinese government, especially on defence and, of course, on AUKUS, and the follow-up action from what has been announced,” he told Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

Hishammuddin also urged the Australian government to reach out to Brunei, the current chair of Asean, as well as other Asean nations — particularly Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.

This move would allay the negative perception on AUKUS and help to clarify any doubts on the matter, Hishamuddin said, adding that he had spoken to his Australian counterpart Peter Dutton on the matter.

“The things we discussed were closely related to YB Kota Raja’s question about Malaysia’s firm stance to not want to get caught up in the battle of the great powers of the world, particularly in the region,” he said during his winding up debate on the royal address.

“I also stated Malaysia’s concern, as emphasised by the prime minister (PM), that the formation of AUKUS could potentially disrupt the security and stability in South-East Asia. Therefore, all parties should refrain from using any military action that is considered provocative, in addition to potentially escalating tensions as well as triggering conflicts,” he added.

In an interview with The Australian Financial Review, former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that AUKUS would increase the risk of conflict in the Asean region.

“This agreement indicates you openly regard China as a possible enemy and that, if it comes to the crunch, you might even go to war. Just imagine what war would do to South-East Asia,” Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying in the report.

The 96-year-old leader said it seems that Australia and the US are pushing for Asean countries to take sides, something that is alien for the region, as the nations normally would resolve conflict via negotiations.

“Australia keeps talking about the region, about being much closer to the region. Yet, every time there is a crisis or a problem, Australia looks west. It seeks friends from the West, not from the East,” said Dr Mahathir in the report.

The Australian officials will provide further clarification to the Malaysian government on the issue of controversial tripartite cooperation, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah on Monday.

He said that he has agreed to the suggestion by his Australian counterpart Marise Payne who suggested for an in-depth briefing to be conducted on the matter.

Apart from AUKUS, Hishamuddin said Malaysia and Australia also discussed the close defence relations under the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA).

“This year is a very important and historic year for the FPDA because we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of its establishment this October.

This celebration will be held with its member countries including Singapore, New Zealand and the UK,” said the minister.