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Najib: Strong Malaysia-China Ties Will Not Compromise Spratly Sovereignty

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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s strong bilateral ties with China will not result in compromised sovereignty, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. He observed that China was well on its way to becoming the world’s largest economy by 2050.

“If we need a market to export our goods and commodities, gain investment, and tourism opportunities, then China will be the biggest source for us.

“It is not a question of being too dependent on China, it is a fact that China is a rapidly growing economy,” he said in response to a question by Datuk Hasan Arifin (BN – Rompin) in Dewan Rakyat on Monday.

Hasan had asked about Malaysia’s stance on China’s claim on the Spratly Islands, since China has been under fire from Asean nations for its aggressive attempts at taking control of the inhabitable islands, believed to be rich in natural resources.

On a supplementary question by Nurul Izzah Anwar (PKR – Lembah Pantai) about the possibility of China breaching Malaysian waters in its attempts to strengthen its claim to the South China Sea, Najib reiterated that sovereignty of the nation was paramount.

“Even though we have strong relations with China in terms of economy, we still hold on to the principle of sovereignty.

“Our difference is that we adopt a non-confrontational stand when attempting to resolve issues such as the South China Sea one,” he said.

China has based its expansive claims in the South China Sea on a nine-dash Line map of the 1940s that covers nearly the entire sea.

It protrudes from China’s southern Hainan Island, loops 1,611km away towards Indonesia, and then links back to the mainland in a cow-tongue shape.

China’s claims overlap with those of four Asean states – the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei – as well as Taiwan, in the potentially resource-rich South China Sea. The sea is also a vital waterway through which some US$5tril (RM19.87tril) of ship-borne traffic passes each year.

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