News

Malaysia will not take sides on AUKUS

This is in tandem with the govt’s principles to always maintain good bilateral relations with all nations regardless of ideology

pic by BERNAMA

MALAYSIA remains neutral and will not take any sides with regards to the tripartite cooperation between the US, UK and Australia (AUKUS).

Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Kamarudin Jaafar (picture) said this is in line with the stance of the Non-Alignment Movement, which Malaysia has been a member of since 1970.

“In addition to monitoring the development of AUKUS from time to time, the close bilateral relations between Malaysia and Australia, the UK and the US will be maintained.

“This action is in tandem with the government’s principles to always maintain good bilateral relations with all countries regardless of ideology,” Kamarudin added.

In balancing Malaysia’s foreign policy and relations with other countries, Wisma Putra will continue to protect the state’s rights based on domestic and international laws.

“The government is also capable of protecting the interests of the state without involving the interference of foreign powers,” he said in his written reply yesterday.

The formation of AUKUS, has raised concerns in Asia as the cooperation also aims to help Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines, among others.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia senior lecturer (political study) Dr Mazlan Ali previously told The Malaysian Reserve that recent developments in the Indo-Pacific have the potential to trigger an arms race between countries in the region.

“AUKUS is seen as a Western or US move to control China. The agreement with Australia means the US will share all the technologies of nuclear submarines with Australia. Previously, only the UK had such privilege. In doing so, the US will cover so much of the vast Indo-Pacific and there will be a nuclear submarine base.

“The quest for the US to restrain China can cause instability and affect Malaysia’s relationship with China. Malaysia has huge economic importance to China; we have a lot of interest with China, especially in terms of trade, and there are a lot of Chinese investments in Malaysia,” he said.

The government has voiced concern and worries about the likelihood of AUKUS catalysing arms races and paves way for aggressive provocation in the region, especially in the South China Sea.

“The government also stressed the importance of respecting and comply with the regulations of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982,” Kamarudin added.

Meanwhile, Kamarudin said Malaysia and China’s relations remain strong despite various arising issues on top of AUKUS such as the intrusion in the South China Sea.

“When encroachment incidents by foreign governments occur in national waters, the government consistently submits the Diplomatic Objection Notes to governments of countries in which foreign ships belong to,” he said.

Malaysia has never recognised any claims by any claimant countries including China, in national waters based on New Malaysia Map 1979.

The republic, however, remains Malaysia’s largest trading partner, with 18.6% of Malaysia’s total global trade in 2020.

This is an increase of 8.1% from 2019, despite both countries being hit with the pandemic last year, he told Dewan Rakyat.

“China remains the largest trading partner for Malaysia for 12 consecutive years, where the value of bilateral trade reached RM329.77 billion for 2020.

For January-August 2021, the value of bilateral trade has increased 35.2% and reached US$108.28 billion (RM454.78 billion), compared to the same period last year,” he added.

Zukri

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