SINGAPORE: China should be engaged in a positive and constructive manner and not seen as an adversary, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.
He said Malaysia was fully convinced that the rise of China would be a benign influence in the region.
“We do not feel threatened by China.
“It will be a mistake to see China as an adversary and if we treat China in a positive and constructive manner, they will also respond to us positively.
“I can tell you that the Chinese have a good memory and if you do them a good deed, they will remember for a long time,” he said at the 10th International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue here yesterday.
Citing an example, Najib said Malaysia was the first South-East Asian country to establish diplomatic ties with China during his late father Tun Abdul Razak Hussein’s tenure and until today, it was still being talked about in the country.
“I am optimistic that besides China, we can also develop a meaningful and constructive relationship with India,” he said, adding that trade with these two countries had been on the rise.
“In Asean we do not have to make a choice.
“We do not want to go back to a Cold War mentality and we look forward to engagements and relationships not just with India and China but others, including the United States,” he added.
On the build-up of conventional arms in the region especially involving navies, Najib downplayed it as a modernisation effort saying that this was part of efforts by countries as their economies got stronger and wealthier.
He said there would be more to lose if countries were engaged in conflicts while there was more to gain if everyone continued to engage constructively.
Earlier in his speech, Najib reiterated Malaysia’s role as a responsible global citizen with actions to help ensure global peace and stability.
“We will continue to play our part and show that our commitment is not merely rhetorical but is backed up by action,” he said, touching on the peacekeeping efforts by Malaysian soldiers, the deployment of female doctors to Afghanistan, Malaysia’s fight against terrorism and the intermediary role it played in southern Philippines.
He also touched on Malaysia’s readiness to be deployed to Bahrain to play a role if invited by the people there.
He also added that there was a new set of asymmetric and non-traditional security challenges involving human trafficking, drug smuggling and nuclear proliferation.
Najib also called for border disputes among regional countries to be resolved in the spirit of mutual respect and cooperation.
Also at the event, Najib outlined six strategies to maintain peace and stability in the region and called for the setting up of a new Rapid Response Team with the ability to respond to disasters.
“The way forward is through dialogue, engagement and consensus,” he added.
Source : The Star