Wisma Putra would be summoning the Ambasaador from the People’s Republic of China to Malaysia Dr Huang Huikang for his alleged statement with regards to the planned ‘Redshirt Rally’ in Petaling Street.
Published: Saturday September 26, 2015 MYT 1:51:00 PM
Updated: Saturday September 26, 2015 MYT 3:03:06 PM
Wisma Putra expected to summon Chinese ambassador
KUALA LUMPUR: Chinese ambassador to Malaysia Dr Huang Huikang is expected to be summoned by Wisma Putra following his statements that are seen as interfering in Malaysia’s domestic affairs.
It is understood the summon, set on Monday, will seek explanation from Dr Huang on his statement made during his visit on Friday, Wisma Putra officials said Saturday.
It is understood the Prime Minister’s Office has been informed of the summon.
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is currently on a working trip to New York.
Dr Huang has been quoted as saying that China was against those who resort to violence to disrupt public order, an obvious reference to the threat by a group to hold demonstration in Petaling Street.
“The Chinese government opposes terrorism and any form of discrimination against races and any form of extremism,” he told reporters during a visit to Petaling Street on Friday.
Dr Huang also warned that Beijing would not fear voicing out against incidents, which threaten the interests of the country, infringe upon the rights of its citizens in doing business, or disrupt the relationship between Malaysia and China.
Officials when contacted are questioning the ambassador’s remarks when he spoke about terrorism and infringement of China’s national interest at Petaling Street.
“Malaysia views his remarks seriously. It tantamount to interfering in Malaysia’s domestic affairs,” said an official.
HE Dr Huang was way out of line and should be seen as ‘interfering with domestic issues of Malaysia’.
Matters pertaining permits of public assembly and national security are the purview of the Royal Malaysian Police and the Home Minister is the one entitled to issue comments.
On the other hand, the Foreign Minister should also question HE Dr Huang as the official representative of China on the People’s Liberation Army – Navy (PLA-N) vessels detected at Beting Patting Ali (Luconia Shoals),
The Diplomat story:
Malaysia Responds to China’s South China Sea Intrusion
The country reacts strongly to Beijing’s incursion into its waters.
By Prashanth Parameswaran
June 09, 2015
Last week, The Borneo Post reported that China had once again encroached into Malaysian waters in the South China Sea.
According to the June 2 report, confirmed by Malaysian officials, a Chinese Coast Guard ship had been detected intruding into Malaysian waters at the Luconia Shoals – which Malaysia calls Beting Patinggi Ali. In this case, the vessel was not just passing through, but had been defiantly anchored just 84 nautical miles from the coast of Sarawak, well inside Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone and on the southern end of China’s nine-dash line which covers about ninety percent of the South China Sea.
This is hardly the first time Chinese vessels have encroached on Malaysian waters. Indeed, as I have written before both here and elsewhere, these intrusions have become both bolder and more frequent over the past few years (See: “Playing It Safe: Malaysia’s Approach to the South China Sea and Implications for the United States”). They pose a clear threat not only to the country’s claims in the South China Sea, but its extensive natural resource activities there as well as the territorial integrity of the nation given that the waterway divides Peninsular Malaysia from East Malaysia.
In response, Malaysia, a nation which has traditionally sought to secure its interests in the South China Sea quietly without undermining its overall relationship with Beijing through what I have termed a ‘playing it safe’ approach, has become increasingly alarmed and recalibrated its policy. Over the past few years, Malaysia has been lodging diplomatic protests directly with Beijing while also shaping debate on the South China Sea within ASEAN, increasing its military capabilities and strengthening ties with other countries including the United States (See: “Malaysia’s South China Sea Policy: Playing It Safe”).
Malaysia’s reaction to this incident is indicative of its growing concern. While Malaysia has at times downplayed such South China Sea-related matters in the past and preferred to handle them privately, the country’s response this time was much firmer and more public. Shahidan Kassim, a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, told a press conference following the incident that he had held meetings with the country’s foreign ministry, national security council, navy and coast guard on the issue. He also announced that Malaysia had sent its navy and coast guard to monitor the area “to ensure the sovereignty of the country.”
Shahidan also took to his personal Facebook page to provide the Malaysian public with further details about the country’s response as well as pictures of the feature in question. In the post, which was written in Malay, he said Malaysian navy and coast guard vessels had anchored around one nautical mile from the Chinese vessel to monitor its activities. He also clarified that the feature was not a case of overlapping claims but one of a foreign ship intruding into Malaysia’s waters.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Monday, Shahidan said that Malaysia would also be taking further diplomatic action, and that Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak would himself raise the issue directly with Chinese President Xi Jinping. He also reiterated the fact that this was not an issue of overlapping claims.
“This is not an area with overlapping claims. In this case, we’re taking diplomatic action,” he said in the interview.
Malaysia – like many other countries – has registered such diplomatic protests before. What is interesting in this case is that the country is making a point to reveal publicly that it is doing so at the highest levels, rather than just carrying this out more quietly as it often does.
The relative hardening of Malaysia’s line in the South China Sea thus far should not be viewed as an abandonment of its ‘playing it safe’ approach.’ Though the response has been firmer and more public, it is still quite measured. Shahidan did not publicly condemn Beijing’s actions to a level that would prompt an escalatory Chinese response, and the Malaysian vessels have also been deployed cautiously. The Najib administration has proven unwilling to let the issue damage the Malaysia’s broader relationship with its largest trading partner, and there is little evidence to suggest this will change anytime soon. Malaysia is also no doubt aware that it is not capable of confronting Beijing directly. Indeed, as I have noted previously, the country has been careful to build in mechanisms to prevent escalation even when it does confront Chinese vessels, down to the number of ships deployed.
Nonetheless, it is notable that Beijing’s assertiveness in the South China Sea has been so alarming that it has even hardened the position of a country that – unlike the Philippines and Vietnam – has been traditionally quieter in how it expresses its reservations.
Luconia Shoals is situated about 55 nautical miles off the coast of Sarawak, which is within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as stipulated in the United Nations Convention Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS).
This is not the first time PLA-N vessels have been stationed within Malaysian EEZ. Twenty months ago, it was at Beting Serupai (James Shoal).
PLA-N officers and seamen took an oath to “Defend their territory” when they had the armed troop carrier and two frigates. This, indirectly is PLA-N’s projection of power on areas which are clearly part of Malaysian EEZ.
Otherwise, it is part of the disputed territories which China claimed as theirs as part of the ‘Nine-Dash-Line’.
China’s expansion attitude and aggressive tendency within the disputed areas is a growing concern. At least two ASEAN nations have had military stand-off against PLA-N.
Despite being a signatory to UNCLOS (1982) and Document of Conduct with ASEAN nations where the agreement was sealed to address mutual disputes through multilateral discussions, China insists on bilateral talks instead.
Jakarta Globe story:
The Association of Southeast Asia Nations has prided itself on its “Asean Way” – an informal and non-legalistic way of doing business, especially its culture of consultations and consensus that have resolved disputes peacefully. That way of doing may be fading among signs the group’s unity is seriously eroding. Against the backdrop of the rise of an assertive China, signs of disunity spell trouble for the region.
There are several reasons for this disunity. First, Asean today is a much bigger entity. Membership expanded in the 1990s to include Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia, with Timor Leste likely to be the 11th member. Asean’s functions and issues have also expanded. Economic cooperation has expanded from the idea of a free trade agreement to a more comprehensive economic community, which technically enters into force this year. Asean cooperation extends to a range of transnational issues from intelligence-sharing, counterterrorism, and maritime security to environmental degradation, air pollution, pandemics, energy security, food security, migration and people-smuggling, drug-trafficking, human rights and disaster management.
With an expanded membership, agenda and area of concern, it’s only natural that Asean will face more internal disagreements. It’s thus not surprising that one of the most serious breakdowns of consensus have involved its new members. Cambodia, as Asean’s chair, disastrously refused to issue a joint Asean communique in 2012 to please China – its new backer and aid donor – rejecting the position of fellow members, Philippines and Vietnam, on the South China Sea dispute.
Compounding challenges is the uncertain leadership of Indonesia. There are signs that the Jokowi government has downgraded Indonesia’s leadership role in Asean especially as the de facto consensus-builder of Asean on both intra- and extra-Asean conflicts, including the South China Sea. Jokowi’s “less multilateralism, more national interest” foreign policy approach, in sharp contrast to his predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s active leadership of Asean, could change. If not, the danger is that if the democratic, economically dynamic and stable Indonesia does not take Asean seriously neither will the world at large.
Without doubt, Asean’s main security challenge is the territorial disputes in the South China Sea. While not a new problem, the disagreement has telescoped due to recent Chinese activities. The most recent example: China’s reclamation activities in the Fiery Reef claimed by Vietnam and Mischief Reef and surrounding areas also claimed by the Philippines. This reflects a shift in China’s approach. While the Chinese military has pressed for land reclamation for some time, the leadership of Hu Jintao had resisted such moves. That restraint ended under the leadership of Xi Jinping, who is more prone to seek the PLA’s counsel in foreign policy issues related to national security and who has advanced China’s assertiveness on economic, diplomatic and military fronts. China is developing the islands further for both area denial and sea-control purposes and as a staging post for blue-water deployments into the Indian Ocean.
These developments challenge Asean’s role and “centrality” in the Asian security architecture. The economic ties of individual Asean members lead them to adopt varying positions. Until now, Asean’s advantage was that there was no alternative convening power in the region. But mere positional “centrality” is meaningless without an active and concerted Asean leadership to tackle problems, especially the South China Sea dispute.
Episodes such as the failure to issue a joint Asean communique in 2012 have led to the perception that Asean unity is fraying and China is a major factor. According to this view, China is out to divide and conquer Asean even as it pays lip-service to Asean centrality. This perception results from China’s seeming willingness to use disagreements within Asean, especially the consensus-breaking stance of Cambodia, insisting that Asean stay out of the South China Sea conflict, as an excuse to resist an early conclusion of the South China Sea Code of Conduct. China also takes the unwillingness of some Asean members to use strong language to criticize China as a sign of disunity. China cites earlier differences within Asean regarding the scope of the code of conduct over the inclusion of the Paracels, as desired by Hanoi. Moreover, China views the code as crisis-prevention tool rather than a dispute-settlement mechanism.
China needs to dispel perceptions that it is playing a divide-and-rule approach to Asean. It should also stop objecting to bringing the South China Sea question onto the agenda of the Asean Regional Forum and the East Asia Summit, on the pretext that not all Asean members are party to the dispute and outside countries such as the United States have no business even discussing the issue. This has the effect of undermining the very idea of Asean centrality or relevance that Beijing purports to uphold. It’s hard to see what the rationale for having these meetings might be without discussion of one of the most serious challenges to regional security and well-being.
As for Asean, it must not remove itself from the South China Sea issue. If anything, it should give even more focused attention to the disputes. One must not forget the lessons of the conflict triggered by the Vietnamese invasion and occupation of Cambodia from December 1978 to September 1989. Neither Vietnam nor Cambodia were members of Asean, and only Thailand was regarded as the “frontline state.” Then, Asean decided to involve itself in a conflict between two non-members because it considered the Vietnamese action a breach of regional norms and a threat to regional stability. Today, four of Asean members are parties to the conflict, out of which two are “frontline states”: Philippines and, ironically enough, Vietnam. The South China Sea conflict poses an even more serious threat to regional stability, and it is a legitimate concern of Asean as a group.
Finally, a word about the view put forward by some that Asean is irrelevant and should stay out of the South China conflict. The alternatives are few and bleak. US military action? It may have a deterrent value against the worst-case scenario of a full-blown Chinese invasion of the islands, but is unlikely to prevent the more likely scenario of China’s creeping expansion. Any US-China understanding is useful for crisis management, but Asean would have to worry whether in the long-term it would lead to US concessions to China – such as refraining from militarily and diplomatically challenging China’s position in the islands and surrounding areas. A decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, which is considering a motion filed by the Philippines challenging the legality of China’s nine-dash line, may end up in Manila’s favor. This would help Asean, even if China rejects that verdict. But to make the most of such an opportunity, Asean would need to show collective support for such a verdict, and it might help if other claimants, such as Vietnam, also initiate similar legal action. China rejects a more direct role by the East Asia Summit, led by Asean anyway, because of US membership. The international community should render more support and encouragement to Asean to persist with its diplomacy in the conflict. And Indonesia needs to get back in this game.
Amitav Acharya is the Unesco Chair in Transitional Challenges and Governance at the School of International Service, American University, in Washington, DC. He is also past president of the International Studies Association, 2014-15, and author of The End of American World Order (Polity, 2014, Oxford India 2015, Shanghai People’s Press, 2016).
China expect to muscles her way through these one-one-one talks. Trade, would be an efficient consideration as a tool to achieve its strategic objectives.
Regardless, Malaysia should be firm about its diplomatic and trade relationship with China and slap the wrist when necessary.