17 March 2014

Malaysia's Foreign Policy (East Asia)

In the first part of the topic of Malaysia's foreign policy, I've covered the links with fellow South East Asia nations. Now, it's time to look at fellow nations further north-eastern from SEA.

Let's start up with the big one.

1) China

The relation with the big nation has started centuries ago, one of the notable occasions being the delegate from Ming dynasty visited Melaka to further strengthen the commercial trades.

However, the darker side of the history would be the involvement of communist during and after the World War II. Influenced by the movement in the China mainland, the original purpose of the Chinese communist was to oppose the Japanese military's control, and soon after the Japanese left, the communist tried to take over the country. That idea of course, didn't went well with the others.

The bitter conflict between the Chinese communist and local Malaysians had caused frictions between the Chinese villagers and other local residents. Even today, some of the elders still have bitter stories to share what happened back in those days. The conflict eventually ended with a peace treaty in the 80's.

On the bigger picture, (if I'm not mistaken) the 2nd Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Razak decided to change the approach by embracing China. This move was welcomed by the chairman Mao Tzedong of China. Malaysia is said to be one of the earlier nations to re-establish a formal political tie with the People's Republic of China (another similar name, the Republic of China is actually Taiwan).

Today, both nations maintain strong relationship, creating a valuable partnership across the region.

2) Japan

When it comes to this nation, it is a bittersweet issue, due to the infamous past during the Japanese military rule over the country for 3 years and 8 months. Though it was just a rather short period of time, it was devastating nevertheless. The Japanese left Malaysia when they surrendered in the war.

Years later, Japan's rapid revitalization and modernization become the role model for other SEA nations to look upon in developing the nation. While Japan may have caused damage during the war, they did contributed and supported the development of the SEA nations. That could be the reason eventhough the nations had suffered during the war, but they chose to forgave the Japanese and moved on.
(Good read here explaining why China's general dislike towards Japan.)

Malaysia's 4th Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad's "Look East Policy" initiative of sending students to study in Japan & Korea also helped to cement a solid diplomatic relationship between the 2 nations. I for one, would say that I'm benefiting from this policy indirectly (as I wasn't sponsored by the government via the LEP).

It's not just Malaysia only, as Japan is also maintaining close ties with other SEA nations. I would say that Japan is much closer to the SEA nations than it's direct neighbours, ironically.

3) South Korea

Surprisingly, I don't really have in-depth knowledge the diplomatic relation between Malaysia and South Korea. But South Korea is making a huge impact in Malaysia in recent years, with the dominance of Samsung, LG & Hyundai lurching away the lucrative market shares of Japanese brands like Sony & Honda.

4) North Korea

OK, to mention this notorious North Korea nation here is rather odd perhaps, but Malaysia is one of the very few nations that has an official diplomatic tie with this misunderstood country.

One of my friend traveled to North Korea some time ago and was surprised to see this Proton Wira around. It seems that some of Malaysia's products has made into the country.
Photo credit: Wan KH

And I was being told that, it's rather easy for Malaysians to get into that country too.

On the next chapter, let's look into the Western nations, namely the UK, USA, Australia, and one country that Malaysian's passport are barred from entering.


It's been almost 10 days since flight MH 370 went missing.
The current update says the plane may have headed to the west towards the Indian Ocean, and the communication was deliberately cut off. Further investigation and search operations are still underway....
Let's hope we'll have a brighter update when the next blogpost is published...

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