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Malaysia to hold talks with China on AUKUS

Australia's Collins-class submarines seen here in formation off Western Australia. The country is procuring a fleet of nuclear-powered boats to replace the Collins class, and the move has evoked varied reactions from Canberra's Southeast Asian neighbours including Malaysia. (Commonwealth of Australia)

A Malaysian delegation will visit China to hold talks with the country's leadership on AUKUS and understand the concerns that Beijing may have over the newly announced partnership.

The matter was disclosed by the country's Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein in response to a parliamentary question on 22 September.

On 15 September the leaders of the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom announced the establishment of a new security partnership known as AUKUS. As part of the partnership, the US and the UK would assist Australia in procuring a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.

Australia has since clarified that it is looking to procure a fleet of at least eight nuclear-powered boats that will be built in-country.

In an official statement issued on 19 September, Malaysia's Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah has described the establishment of AUKUS and the submarine procurement plan as decisions that “could lead to the escalation of arms race in the region”.

In light of this development, Malaysian member of parliament and former defence minister Mohamad Bin Sabu asked for the defence ministry's own position on AUKUS, and how it intends to respond to this partnership.

“I have advised the Australian Defence Minister that besides approaching Malaysia they should also approach Brunei given the country's position as the current chair of ASEAN, and the CMLV [Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam] countries that have close relations with China to understand their concerns,” said Hishammuddin.

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