China has always maintained a strong position in Malaysia’s foreign policy for one reason or another. The China-Malaysia ties, which were once strained by Chinese containment, have now become more cordial. Malaysia has opened itself up to China, adopting a multifaceted approach to the rising power. Areej Haider notes that Malaysia’s policy towards China now hinges on two factors: containing the latter’s influence, and engaging with it for the sake of economic benefits.
China has always maintained sovereignty over the South China Sea, which is rich in both oil and natural gas reserves. More so, its sea routes are critical for China’s maritime transportation. Interestingly, while China has never claimed Indonesia’s Natuna islands, it has also never clarified the meaning of the nine-dash line that overlaps with Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone near the Natuna Islands.