Malaysia inches closer to China

Chinese military personnel during a visit in Malaysia for joint exercises
Malaysia, Nov. 23, 2016: Chinese Peoples’ Army unit taking part in the third military exercise held jointly by China and Malaysia (source: dpa)
  • Beijing has thrown critical economic and political lifelines to the besieged Malaysian government
  • Closer economic ties are accompanied to incremental increases in military cooperation between the two nations
  • Kuala Lumpur’s pro-China tilt represents a departure from its traditional nonaligned policy balancing East and West

In early November 2016, the Malaysian government confirmed its first ever defense deal with the People’s Republic of China. The agreement for the delivery of at least four Chinese-made littoral mission ships, naval vessels to help Malaysia patrol its territorial waters, is likely to have raised some eyebrows in Washington. Malaysia is regarded as a key security partner of the United States in Southeast Asia. The surprise deal came at the end of a strong year for China-Malaysia relations.

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