BBC: US must 'learn to live' with China, Mahathir says | Forum

Admin Oct 12 '18

NEW YORK -- Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad shared lessons this week for Washington in dealing with Beijing, suggesting that China has endured for thousands of years and will continue to no matter how much economic pressure is applied.

"Whether we like it or not, China is there, and China is going to play a bigger role in world affairs," Mahathir told an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations here on Wednesday.

"So one has to learn how to live with China," which will "survive" the damage from any trade war, he said.

The 93-year-old prime minister made appearances at think tanks during his week in New York, where he will deliver a speech from the United Nations General Assembly on Friday. His appearance will mark his first speech there as prime minister in a decade and a half. He last spoke in 2003 before resigning after a 22-year run as head of government.

Mahathir himself has defied China, backing away from loans accepted by his predecessor, Najib Razak. But he said that Kuala Lumpur and Beijing have otherwise friendly relations. The prime minister asserted that dealing with the world's second-largest economy is unavoidable -- a lesson other countries should take to heart.

President Xi Jinping is a "nationalist to the core" who seeks to "build a greater China," Mahathir said on Thursday at the Asia Society. He suggested that Washington's insistence on pushing the trade war forward would not be productive and warned that "in the end, both countries will have to pay a price."

"Unfortunately, other countries which are not involved will also have to pay a price," he said.
"I think you can make America great in many other ways," Mahathir said at the CFR. "But having a trade war is not the best way" to serve America, he added.

He made clear that he did not want Malaysia to become beholden to China
 -- a consequence of the extensive borrowing for such projects as high-speed rail. He suggested that the use of economic pressure against weaker countries is "a kind of colonialism."

Mahathir painted an optimistic picture of his country under his not-quite-new leadership. "We have great hopes for the country to be resuscitated," he told the audience at the Asia Society.

"We will readopt the concept of 'Malaysia Inc.,' which means that Malaysia is a corporation in which the private sector and the government work closely together to ensure that the corporation succeeds and delivers to the people," he said.

This, the prime minister said, could come through foreign investment, and he expressed a hope that Malaysian investors will bring their sights and their wallets closer to home.

Mahathir said at the CFR that the United Malays National Organization he once headed had adopted a "cash is king" philosophy under the since-charged Najib that allowed bribery and money laundering to flourish. "But we have proven that cash is not king," he said of his election victory. "The will of the people will prevail over cash."

"There is no future for UMNO anymore because the people as a whole detest UMNO," Mahathir said.
Malaysia's status as a major member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations made all the more surprising his suggestion at the CFR that ASEAN should reconsider its stance on keeping out of countries' internal affairs.

Asked to weigh in on Myanmar's Rohingya crisis, Mahathir suggested that such a case of "genocide" may warrant military action.

He said he has sometimes thought that "some form of military action may be taken." Mahathir suggested that the world's inaction during the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia was "wrong."
"We saw this happening in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Cambodia" and now in Myanmar, Mahathir said. "So I think the world need[s] to sit down and think about the limits of noninterference."

He was reluctant to accept the suggestion of U.N. military engagement but quipped: "If in Malaysia, we massacre all the Chinese and Indians, I think you have a right to move in."

The Forum post is edited by Admin Oct 12 '18