TOKYO - If Japan and China cannot find ways to communicate constructively, Mahathir Mohamad reckons silence might be the best policy.
The former Malaysian prime minister believes keeping quiet would be preferable to the countries provoking each other unnecessarily. "Have a moratorium for a period of several years, where you say nothing and they say nothing," he told the Future of Asia conference Friday, responding to a question about how to achieve a breakthrough in Tokyo-Beijing relations.
Ties between the governments are strained, largely due to territorial disputes.
Mahathir said China is building muscle -- militarily and economically -- partly because it is being challenged. "I believe that China feels it is being hampered, and the reaction of anybody who is being obstructed is to raise capacity to overcome the obstruction," he said. "I think that is why China came up with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank."
Mahathir hopes Japanese and Chinese leaders will reach out and find ways to resolve their differences, including through co-operation on the AIIB and trade agreements. He suggested the moratorium as a temporary measure.
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