Back in Power, Malaysia's Prime Minister Moves Away From China

Aug 24, 2018 | 16:35 GMT

Mahathir Mohamad, who served as Malaysia's prime minister from 1981-2003, celebrates his victory and return to power in the country's election in May 2018.

Mahathir Mohamad, who served as Malaysia's prime minister from 1981-2003, won this year's election as an opposition candidate and resumed his former office in May.



  • Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad will work to end his country's economic overreliance on China without leaning on the West as part of his Malay nationalist agenda.
  • The government in Kuala Lumpur will look for alternative foreign partners to insulate itself from the intensifying competition between China and the United States.
  • Japan will probably take on a more prominent role in Malaysia's economy and security as a result. 

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's first state visit to China since returning to office in May went a lot like the seven state visits he made there during his first stint in power. On the trip, which ended Aug. 21, Mahathir reaffirmed his policy toward China and agreed with Beijing on several important issues, such as accelerating regional free trade and advancing multilateral negotiations over the South China Sea. He also toured the eastern city of Hangzhou and clinched a deal with Chinese automaker Geely to allow Malaysia's national car brand, Proton (a legacy of his time as prime minister in the 1980s) to assemble and market its cars in China. But compared with his earlier visits to China, and with the trip his predecessor Najib Razak made two years ago, Mahathir's latest jaunt produced few deals for investment and collaboration. The fate of three Chinese-funded projects planned for Malaysia under...

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