Dr M: US, China must end trade war before it turns into Cold War


KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today expressed hope that the United States and China would come to their senses and end their ongoing trade war lest it degenerates into a long-term Cold War.

“A major challenge for all of us now is the US-China trade war.

“Its deterioration from a trading skirmish to a trade war has been most disappointing, with the prospect of worsening into a long-term Cold War.

“I hope the US and China will soon see enough sense to replace conflict with cooperation. Everyone will stand to gain much more when we collaborate with each other, but healthy competition should also be acceptable,” Dr Mahathir said in his keynote speech at the 33rd Asia-Pacific roundtable titled ‘New Malaysia in a changing Regional Order’ here, today.

He said Malaysia will continue to promote the maintenance of a peaceful, stable and strategically autonomous neighbourhood, citing the nation’s collaboration with the Thai government in counter-insurgency operations.

“When Thailand and Malaysia were confronted by insurgents along our common border, we acted together to resolve the problem.

“When violence flared again on the Thai side, Malaysia offered to bring the contending parties together in negotiations.

“But any approach would be for the Thais themselves to make. Malaysia’s role (in the negotiations) was (made) possible only upon the agreement of all Thai parties, and upon the invitation of the Thai authorities. The same applies for Malaysia’s role in the southern Philippines,” he said.

Dr Mahathir also pointed out that when the long-standing piracy issue worsened in the Straits of Malacca, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia joined forces to tackle it, with Thailand later joining in the multinational effort.

“Fruitful international relations are possible only when national circumstances are equally healthy. Towards that end, we believe Malaysia and the region will prevail,” he said.

China and the US have been at loggerheads in their economic policies and decisions – a conflict which saw the recent ban on the former’s telecommunications brand Huawei in the US.

During the question-and-answer session later, Dr Mahathir also commented on the South China Sea territorial dispute which escalated when China established a military presence in the area.

“Malaysia has always been advocating peaceful ways of solving conflicts; the countries concerned should sit down.

“Sending warships to provoke is not the solution. If any small provocation flares into a big war, then the whole world will suffer,” he said.

The South China Sea dispute involves competing island and maritime claims by Brunei, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.