Malaysia sides with China in U.S.-China trade war

March 12, 2019

TEHRAN - In a major snub to the Trump administration, Malaysia says it would prefer to take sides with China over the U.S. if his country was forced to take sides in the trade war.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was quoted as saying in South China Morning Post that China is an “economic power that presents opportunities”, even though he has been a critic of Beijing.

Malaysia has to “accept that China is close to us”, he told the SCMP. “And it is a huge market. We want to benefit from China’s growing wealth.”

Mahathir further said that the Southeast Asian country will decide how to handle relations with China independently, without coming under the influence of U.S.

“Well, it depends on how they behave. Currently the U.S. is very unpredictable as to the things they do,” Mahathir said in the interview.

Weighing in on fears about Beijing’s growing clout, he said: “China’s attitude, of course, is to gain as much influence as possible,” he said. “But so far China doesn’t seem to want to build an empire. So we will remain free people.”

The 91-year-old prime minister said that Beijing will make use of its economic strength “to achieve what is to China the best objective – that they have to grow richer and richer, and this is the ambition of all countries.”

“With their wealth they are going to be in the same position that the Western countries were in the past,” he said.

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