Malaysia Defence Minister: China must come clean

Malaysia Defence Minister: China must come clean

LANGKAWI: China must declare its intentions behind the Maritime Silk Road's (MSR) US$40 billion (S$55 billion ) fund, said Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

The MSR, he said, had raised questions in the minds of many in the region.

"As such, if the MSR is to be a success, greater confidence on all sides must be built. China could constantly engage in active engagement of stakeholders in the region and beyond.

"This must not only be done on a government-to-government basis but also encompasses the private sector and civil society," he said in his speech at the ASEAN Business Forum dialogue on "The Maritime Silk Road - Will It Benefit ASEAN?".

The MSR, said Hishammuddin, must not come across as a "Chinese Project" but rather a joint effort by all the nations involved.

"At the same time, there must not be any circumventing of existing sub-regional bodies or processes such as ASEAN," he said, adding that he hoped that China understood all this.

"The first Silk Road united people and cultures. It spread not only goods but also ideas, tolerance and understanding. The MSR must do likewise if it is to succeed," he said.

The Maritime Silk Road, officially the 21st Century Maritime Silk Route Economic Belt, is an initiative by China to increase investment along the historic Silk Road.

Chinese President Xi Jinping had last year announced the creation of the fund to help finance its plans.

Earlier, Hishammuddin said the inaugural Multi Nation Counter Terrorism Exercise among ASEAN countries might become a permanent fixture in future LIMA.

"We have so many activities in LIMA this year and this particular programme has been so successful," he told reporters after closing the exercise at the Langkawi International Shooting Range Malay­sia.

He said he also foresaw more countries taking part in the future.

The seven-day exercise was jointly hosted by the Malaysian Armed Forces and the police with participation from both the military and special forces of the 10 ASEAN members and the United Arab Emirates.

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