Last year, in a heroic decision, Malaysia selected a Western company, Swedish-based Ericsson, over Chinese tech giant Huawei to stand up its national 5G architecture.
Since that time and throughout this year, the shocked Communist Chinese Government and its closely linked giant telecom, Huawei, have consistently engaged in antics to try and kill the deal and reverse the Ericsson award.
The decision by Malaysia took real guts.
Ethnically, some 21% of the Malaysian population is Chinese, 13% of all of its exports go to Chinese markets, and 24% of all imports are of Chinese origin.
Further, some experts believe that Chinese investment in Malaysia is up to 2/3 of its GDP. The significance of Malaysia’s decision at a time when China is continually "on the move" can’t be overstated.
Unfortunately, it has received little press attention in the Western World as China continues to try and undermine the decision.
Make no mistake, Communist China’s increasing belligerence, its cyberwar activities, intellectual property theft, and thumbing its nose at The Hague on keeping the South China Sea open to the free flow of trade and commerce, poses the greatest threat globally.
And let’s not forget, the genocide against the Uyghurs and its failure to be more forthcoming to the global community on COVID-19.
When a nation like Malaysia, in its own backyard, has the backbone to make the right decision, contrary to Beijing’s wishes, it becomes imperative for the Western World to stand with them, giving them the support they need.
Let’s take a look at Malaysia, recent significant developments with China, and how the decision was made:
Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy and former British protectorate whose legal system is based on English Common Law, with English as a recognized second language.
Digital Nasional Berhard (DNB) is owned and operated by Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance.
It was established early last year.
It's responsible for development and implementation of national 5G network infrastructure in Malaysia. Through an open RFP, it selected Ericsson to build out its network in a 10 year, $2.7 billion deal.
Malaysia, whose foreign policy is based on the principle of neutrality, began inching closer to China under the Prime Ministership of Najib Razak (2009-2118).
In fact, in 2015, Malaysia and China conducted joint military exercises for the first time ever. Razak brought in Chinese investment, which included large scale construction projects financed by Chinese firms.
These projects were suspended upon the inauguration of Mahathir Mohamad in 2018.
Mahathir criticized what he called "a new version of colonialism" from Beijing.
Razak’s "friendly" relations with China continued after he was out of office and, in fact, was the "keynote speaker" at China’s "World Chinese Economic Forum" (WCEF) in late December, 2021.
Last week, Razak entered a Malaysian jail to begin serving a 12 year prison sentence for corruption. The post-Razak Malaysian Government, through its decision not to give its 5G network contract to Huawei, has signaled that it strives to maintain a degree of self-determination.
Further actions show it's taking a strong stand against corruption and doesn’t want to be subservient to Beijing by being indebted to Chinese backed firms on various projects.
We live in dangerous times and China’s reach into previous unaligned countries is disturbing. In fact, just this weekend, a U.S. Coast Guard cutter was denied a port call in the Solomon Islands.
This, after less than two weeks ago, the Solomon Islands secured a loan from China to fund Huawei to build telecommunication towers across the nation. And earlier this month, the Solomon Islands’ prime minister was a "no-show" at a memorial service, near the country’s capital, to commemorate the Battle of Guadalcanal.
When Malaysia, who is in China’s own hemisphere, makes a decision that's in the best interests of their own people, rather than those of Beijing, it's important that the Western World stand with Malaysia, supporting its efforts.
It’s also an opportunity to rekindle relationships with strategic partners in the region to reiterate the importance of freedom of navigation and sovereignty in the South China Sea.
Free markets and the ability for fair competition to outlast pressure from outside actors will promote regional stability and prosperity.
A real foreign policy and proactive strategy in the region, one encompassing the reengagement of old allies, while working with new ones, can help accomplish this.
Van Hipp is Chairman of American Defense International, Inc. He is the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army and author of "The New Terrorism: How to Fight It and Defeat It." He is the 2018 recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II September 11 Garden Leadership Award for National Security. Read Van Hipp's Reports — More Here.
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