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Malaysia fits China’s bill to become emerging arms supplier

 | August 20, 2017

Military researcher Collin Koh says Beijing seeks to peddle military wares by couching it as promoting defence and security ties with Malaysia.

china-military-malaysia-1PETALING JAYA: A Singapore-based military researcher says China’s reported attempt to supply weapons and other military equipment to Malaysia is part of the superpower’s move to become a strong global arms provider, especially among countries that are buying from western nations.

Collin Koh, a research fellow with the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, was quoted by the South China Morning Post (SCMP) today as saying that there were reasons to surmise some kind of discussions on military purchases had taken place between China and Malaysia.

“If China wants to showcase itself as an emerging, credible global arms supplier, it’ll need to start sealing successful arms deals especially with countries that have been buying Western.

“Malaysia fits the bill,” he was quoted as saying.

“Naturally, therefore, Beijing will seek to peddle a wider array of arms to Malaysia, couching it within a broader ambit of promoting defence and security ties with the country,” Koh added.

Reports emerged earlier this month that Malaysia was considering China’s proposal to set up a regional counter-intelligence centre in Johor equipped with radar surveillance and a missile system.

An aide to Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein reportedly responded by saying that the ministry was unaware of any such offers made by China to Malaysia.

The SCMP report also said a reduction in Malaysia’s defence budget to RM15.1 billion in the current financial year from RM17.7 billion ringgit the previous year due to the country’s financial situation had led some industry experts to predict a possible “low-cost workaround” with increased procurement from Chinese weapon suppliers.

It said Malaysia’s budget was just over a third of the US$10 billion (RM43 billion) in defence spending by Singapore, and the US$8.2 billion (RM35.2 billion) by Indonesia.

The report also cited Li Jie, a senior researcher at the Naval Military Studies Research Institute in Beijing, as saying that China’s key purpose was “to ensure regional security.”

“Since smaller countries have no or limited ability to develop weapons on their own, they need help in order to defend against terrorist attacks and other threats.

“Just like helping Pakistan, China is also willing to help Southeast Asian countries – especially those with good relations with China – to improve their defence power,” Li was quoted as saying.

“And these countries are purchasing weapons from abroad anyway. If China doesn’t sell to them, someone else will,” he added.

Malaysia had last year sealed the purchase of four China-made littoral mission ships for the Royal Malaysian Navy, signifying the first time that the country had bought any defence asset from China.

Amanah: Don’t let Malaysia be China’s military satellite

Hishammuddin: China’s littoral mission ships a necessity

 


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