PM Anvar Ibrahim: Trying to contain China will only fuel its grievances

Attempts to contain China’s rise would only aggravate the country and sow discord in the region, Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said during a speech in Australia on Thursday.

In an speech at the Australian National University in Canberra, he said countries needed to put themselves in China’s shoes and recognise how its leaders saw its military buildup and growing diplomatic influence as a natural result of its economic and technological prowess.

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“In their eyes, the adverse actions on China’s rise, militarily, economically and technologically, represent nothing less than an attempt to deny their legitimate place in history,” Anwar said.

“The obstacles being placed against China’s economic and technological advancement will only further accentuate such grievances.”

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Anwar, who attended an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Australia that ended on Wednesday, repeatedly struck a dovish line on China at the meeting that was overshadowed by clashes between the Philippines and China in the disputed South China Sea.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Monday his country would grow security ties with the U.S. and resist Chinese incursions in the disputed sea.

In his address, Anwar said Malaysia and Australia had a duty to encourage China, the U.S. and other major players in the Asia-Pacific to behave in a manner conducive to cooperation and economic integration.

Anwar, who heads a Muslim majority nation, also said the differences in the West’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the war in Gaza defied reason.

“Why … has the West been so vociferous, vehement, and unequivocal in the condemnation of the Russia invasion of Ukraine while remaining utterly silent on the relentless, bloodletting inflicted on innocent men, women and children of Gaza.”

The joint Australia-ASEAN statement on Wednesday reiterated concern over the “dire” humanitarian situation in Gaza, as well as calling for the release of hostages held in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

(Reporting by Lewis Jackson; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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