PETALING JAYA: Outgoing Chinese ambassador to Malaysia Huang Huikang today denied that China was interested in “grabbing” Malaysian land.
Huang, who had been China’s envoy to Malaysia since 2014, said in a report by Sin Chew Daily that if China wanted to grab land, it would have done so “600 years ago”.
However, he added that invading other countries was “not part of Chinese genes”.
“If you know our history, you would not accuse China of invading or grabbing the land of others, unlike Western powers.
“We have never done so and never will,” he was quoted as saying.
Huang’s comments come amid concern from some quarters regarding what is seen as China’s growing influence in the country.
A report by Bloomberg in August quoted Weiwen Ng, an economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group in Singapore, as saying that Chinese corporations are taking up larger stakes in major infrastructure projects across the region.
According to the report, China accounted for 6% of net foreign direct investment inflows in Malaysia last year.
China’s mega projects in Malaysia include the RM55 billion East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project and the KL-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project which is expected to cost over RM60 billion.
The ECRL will create a 250km land bridge which could undercut the Melaka Straits trade route by bypassing Singapore, while the 350km HSR will cut travel time between KL and Singapore to just 90 minutes.
China is also involved in the RM43 billion Melaka Gateway project which features a deep-sea port to be built by 2019 on Pulau Melaka off the coast of Melaka.
It is part of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative which aims to expand China’s political, economic and military clout.
Critics of China’s projects in Malaysia include former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who said earlier this year that China had placed itself in a position where it could dominate governments without conquering any of them.
“With the changes in (its) leadership, we see more ambitious leaders coming in and maybe they like to flex their muscles a bit and that is very worrisome,” he said in an interview with the Financial Times.
However, Huang said those who respected facts would not accuse China-owned firms of trying to grab Malaysian jobs or “sell” the country’s sovereignty.
“Somebody raised a question in Parliament (recently), asking how much land Malaysia has sold to China.
“It is my responsibility to answer, ‘zero’,” the former law professor was quoted as saying.