KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will investigate the claims that China has placed military assets in the hotly-disputed Spratly Islands.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said he would be meeting his counterparts in Australia, Vietnam and the Philippines to verify the claims.
“I have heard from reports and claims. We need to see if they are true.
“If the claims are true, this demands a push back on China,” he told reporters at the Malaysian Armed Forces Staff College yesterday.
He said the meeting with the Australian Defence Minister next week was to share information and discuss the current situation on the islands.
“We need to ensure that the promise made by the Chinese that they will not place any military assets on Spratly Islands is a promise we can hold them to,” he said.
Hishammuddin said he would also meet with the other two countries, who were directly involved in the issue, to gain support on possible steps to take should the claims prove to be true.
“We, Malaysia, realise that we cannot work alone in stopping the aggressive actions taken by China in building up military assets in artificial islands in that area, if the claims are true.
“We need the support of other Asean countries to do so. It is the Asean way to work together but there must be a push back,” he said.
When asked if Malaysia would itself consider placing military assets on the islands, Hishammuddin said it was not so easy when it came to dealing with superpowers like China and the United States.
“These are duplicating claims and if we put our military there, it may raise the eyebrows of our neighbours, then Vietnam will do the same, Philippines will do the same and we fight amongst ourselves.
“So we get trapped into the geopolitics of superpowers and that is something that Asean should not allow,” he said.