Malaysia and China signed a series of agreements Tuesday that cover among other things energy and defense coordination, Chinese state media reported.
“Ties between our two countries are now set to reach new highs,” Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said in an op-ed in the state-run China Daily.
Razak said that his country has agreed to purchase four littoral mission ships from the Chinese — two which will be built in China and two in Malaysia — in what he called “the first significant [sic] defence deal between our two countries.
Razak also took an apparent shot at the West for its treatment of former colonial powers.
“More generally, we believe it is incumbent upon larger countries to treat smaller ones fairly,” he said. “And this includes former colonial powers. It is not for them to lecture countries they once exploited on how to conduct their own internal affairs today.”
Comments on one of the biggest flashpoints in the regions — the South China Sea — were markedly diplomatic.
“As two countries on the South China Sea, China and Malaysia’s increasing naval cooperation to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea is of great significance in increasing mutual trust between the two countries,” said Liu Zhenmin, China’s vice foreign minister.
Razak said “when it comes to the South China Sea, we firmly believe that overlapping territorial and maritime disputes should be managed calmly and rationally through dialogue, in accordance with the rule of law and peaceful negotiations.”
Liu also said that China plans to join in construction of oil and gas pipelines in the Malaysian state of Sabah, which borders the South China Sea, according to China’s The People’s Daily.
The announcement comes as the Philippines has also begun strengthening its ties with China — a move which some say shows the waning influence of the United States in the region.