Malaysia remains neutral despite forging cooperation with China, US, says Speaker

BEIJING: Malaysia maintains its position as a Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN) country despite establishing international trade cooperation with two competing superpowers, namely China and the United States, says Tan Sri Johari Abdul.

The Dewan Rakyat Speaker said Malaysia has never changed that position and the two superpowers remain the biggest investors in the country.

He said following the shift of the economic paradigm to the Asian region, Malaysia should also strengthen trade relations with China, which is increasingly advanced in the field of economy and technology.

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"Anyone (foreign countries) who wants to do business (trade and investment) with us (Malaysia), we welcome... but more importantly, there is now a switch in the economic wave to Asia.

"If the 19th century belonged to Britain and Europe and the 20th century belonged to the United States, now in the 21st century, a shift has occurred as economic development shows Asia is the place to be.

"If Malaysia does not take advantage of this Asian economic wave, something is wrong with us," he said in a special interview with Bernama in conjunction with his official visit to Beijing, China.

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He said this in response to a question about Malaysia balancing the world's perception on the country's actions in establishing diplomatic and international trade cooperation with China and the United States.

The Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat said Malaysia, as host of the Asean Summit in 2025, must have a clear direction in line with the wave of economic change in the region.

Therefore, cooperation and diplomatic relations with China will open opportunities for Malaysia to set a direction in leading Asean.

"Imagine when we become chairman (of the Asean Summit), how can we lead Asean if we do not talk about the rise of Asia and its economy.

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"We can’t be talking about politics and war only... for me, what we will highlight, debate and do when the time comes in 2025 is that we aim for the greater position for our people and this region," Johari said.

He described the agenda and direction as noble and good, therefore the country should collaborate with China to maximise Malaysia's potential in the region.

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Johari, who led the Malaysian Parliament delegation, ended his official visit to the republic at the invitation of his counterpart, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the 14th National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China Zhao Leji on Wednesday (Sept 27).

During the visit from Sept 23, Johari held a bilateral meeting with Zhao, the Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), Wang Huning and the President of China, Xi Jinping, in addition to attending the opening ceremony of the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games and visited several large Chinese companies in the field technology, renewable energy, agriculture and artificial intelligence (AI). - Bernama

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