Malaysia’s Chinese spending spree

Malaysia walks a fine political line.

Malaysia’s Navy Deal With China: Meeting A Complex Security Challenge – Analysis

Beyond geopolitics, the latest revelation of Malaysia’s purchase of Littoral Mission Ships from China needs to be viewed in perspective.

By Koh Swee Lean Collin*

Prime Minister Najib Razak’s current visit to Beijing has been underscored by what the Malaysian leader described as a “landmark decision” – a two-year defence contract to buy and build four Littoral Mission Ships (LMS) from China. This deal might have come across as surprising to many who have long known that Malaysia has customarily operated Western naval equipment. As Najib told the Malaysian media in Beijing: “I call this a landmark decision because before this, we had not bought such vessels from China.”

Such a revelation sparked much speculation about Kuala Lumpur’s further geopolitical shift towards Beijing and consequent ramifications for regional security, especially the United States’ Asia rebalancing strategy. But geopolitics aside, this deal, if it is formally inked and implemented, should not have come across as any surprise. In fact, last year the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) reportedly also mulled Chinese replacements for the aging Italian-made missiles on board its Laksamana-class corvettes.

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