PETALING JAYA: The time has come for Malaysia to stand up to China, and the first step to achieving this is to stop treating the People’s Republic like a “big brother”.
This is the view shared by political analysts, who also suggested that Malaysia should turn to the United States (US) as a strategy to stop the “bullying” by China.
“The soft approach of sending protest notes no longer works,” geostrategist Dr Azmi Hassan told theSun.
On May 30, Malaysia was forced to scramble its jets to intercept 16 Chinese military aircraft that intruded into its airspace near Sarawak, but the Chinese embassy later issued a statement saying that it was a routine activity and did not violate international laws.
Even Malaysia’s neighbours such as Vietnam and the Philippines have hardened their stand against such intrusions by the East Asia giant, he pointed out.
Two days ago, the US Air Force voiced its support for the Royal Malaysian Air Force and “encouraged” China to respect the sovereignty of other nations.
Azmi, of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, said that there have been more than 100 Chinese maritime intrusions into Malaysian waters, the most recent being near Beting Patinggi Ali, also known as the Luciano Shoals, which is within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The incident was confirmed by the head of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency in Miri, Kapt Md Fauzi Othman, who told theSun that a report on the encroachment was received on June 4.
Over the years, local fishermen have reported sightings of China Coast Guard vessels in Beting Patinggi Ali.
Azmi said the republic is trying to exert its claim over the South China Sea, and Malaysia’s EEZ accounts for 90% of it. “Malaysia has been very diplomatic with China compared with Indonesia, Vietnam or the Philippines.”
Azmi conceded that Washington also has its own agenda for the South China Sea but for Malaysia, it can be a “bigger brother” than China.
Malaysia has remained neutral in a spat between the two economic giants but it may have to lean over to the US if Chinese “bullying” does not stop, he said.
Malaysian Council of Professors senior fellow Dr Jeniri Amir said recent actions by China has been “very provocative”. “This is not how two friendly nations should behave.”
He said Putrajaya now needs to look for a new way forward when dealing with Beijing as the current methods are no longer effective.
Given that China has huge investments in Malaysia, it should be more mindful of its treatment of its host country, Jeniri added.
“It is time to lodge a complaint with the United Nations Security Council over the actions of Beijing.”