Comprehensive Strategic Partners but Prosaic Military Ties: The Development of Malaysia--China Defence Relations 1991-2015

August 2015
Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International & Strate;Aug2015, Vol. 37 Issue 2, p269
Academic Journal
Malaysia and China upgraded their relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2013 and signed a Joint Communique in 2014. Although the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership includes a pledge to strengthen cooperation between the armed forces of the two countries, so far, however, Sino-Malaysian defence ties have advanced only incrementally. This article focuses on the development of defence relations between the two countries from 1991 until the first half of 2015. It examines several areas of defence diplomacy, including visits by senior officials, the exchange of military students, arms sales, defence and security consultations and combined military exercises. It concludes that although Malaysia-China defence ties have not developed as quickly as other aspects of the bilateral relationship, this does not mean that the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership lacks depth, or that Kuala Lumpur fundamentally distrusts Beijing because of recent developments in the South China Sea.


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