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Mahathir Mohamad on the China Trade War and More

SNA (Tokyo) — Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad visited Tokyo in late May. The SNA filmed his press conference at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan. Below are key excerpts, including both the video and transcripts.

The Trade War with China is Stupid

Well, the trade war is stupid. It doesn’t serve any purpose. It only disturbs the even progress of the economies of all kinds of countries, including Malaysia. We would not like to have this US-China trade war if more reasonable minds take over, but at the moment we have to accept that there is a trade war and that it affects us. We want China to be rich enough to be a great market for us and for the rest of the world. China has 1.4 billion people and is very productive. They can definitely become a very big market for the entire world, and for Malaysia (which has a positive trade balance with China) their prosperity is good for us. However, we also have a positive trade balance with the United States that we would like to continue because I believe that the way to handle relations is not to be confrontative. Yes, today China is exporting a lot, but you were afraid of China when it was poor and now you are afraid of it when it’s rich. What should China do? You can’t be in between. We have to accept the fact that the Chinese have come around and are now very rich, and perhaps they are using the money to enhance their position. You have to remember that when the European powers were very powerful they conquered the rest of the world. China has not yet conquered us; we have been in trade with China for 2000 years, exchanging jungle products with their lacquerware and the like, but they have never invaded our country. We have had different relations with Europe – in 1509 the Portuguese came to Malaysia, and two years later they conquered it. So far China has not conquered Malaysia. I think China should think that it is not worthwhile conquering countries, as then you become responsible for the prosperity of that country. So, we would like to see peace with a less confrontational attitude between America and China. Whether America likes it or not, China is going to be a powerful country.

Huawei Spying No Worse Than CIA Spying

Well, Huawei may be powerful in spying or whatever. They can spy as much as they like because we have no secrets. We can’t tell them better technologies and all that. America is apparently afraid of the advancements made by Huawei, and they are suspicious that Huawei might be able to, well, spy on them. Maybe that is ground for condemning, but I think that is not the way to go. You should have to compete with them in areas where you are strong, and I am quite sure for a long time the CIA, for example, have been reporting on everything that is done in Malaysia and China. We did not carry out a boycott of America because of that. They have that capacity, now Huawei has that capacity. Let them do their worst.

Threatening Iran With War is Primitive

Iran is accused of having weapons. So is Israel. Israel is a nuclear power, and Iran has agreed not to become a nuclear power. I think the parties of that agreement should honor that. You asked Iran to stop, and they have stopped, but now you are saying that stopping is not enough. You have to go beyond that – I don’t know how far beyond. But, I think that this attitude of threats is something that is very primitive. I mean, just imagine in our society that if I don’t like you, I punch your nose. Is that a way to solve problems? In our society, if you did that there would be chaos in the country. In our global society, we should not utter threats to people, nor should we send battleships and things like that. The thing to do is to negotiate; to talk to them. I don’t think Iran wants war. They don’t want war. Iran is being accused of subverting other Arab countries, but we have 70,000 Iranians in Malaysia. They are not refugees, but they choose to come to Malaysia. We are Sunni Muslim, they are Shia. We have no problem with them. They live there, and they respect our religion, so we respect theirs. So, the better thing to do is to help understand each other. We are mature enough, civilized enough, to depend upon our ability to think and argue things out. You create the United Nations, and then you ignore the United Nations. Who created the United Nations? The very people who today ignore the United Nations. This is what is happening in the world today. If the world today is having problems, it is because there are still some countries that like to threaten other people with their military strength. It’s outdated. If you go to war, this whole world will be shattered.

Grossly Unfair for Rich Countries to Send Waste to Poor Countries

Well, this is going to be a problem for the whole world. You have probably already seen too much waste and have had problems trying to get rid of that waste. Landfills and all that don’t serve any purpose anymore. You cannot burn the waste because of the smoke and other pollutants, so it is grossly unfair for rich countries to send their waste to poor countries simply because the poor countries have no choice. Maybe it contributes a little to their economy, but they send this plastic waste to Malaysia. We cannot accept the idea that waste from rich countries should be sent to poor countries. We don’t need your waste because our own waste is enough to give us problems, and of course plastic is something that is non-biodegradable. We need to get rid of such waste in a way that doesn’t pollute the environment. You give us the waste, and then you insist that we pollute by getting rid of that waste. Please remember that when you pollute one part of the world, you pollute the rest of the world also. These things tend to float all over the world. We have reduced the usage of plastic waste in Malaysia; no single-use plastic bags are to be used and no plastic straws or things like that. It is incumbent upon the entirety of the world to reduce their consumption of plastic waste so that we do not pollute, but don’t send the waste to poor countries.

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