ISEAS Yusof Ishak, Southeast Asian Affairs 2022

Malaysia’s Relations with the United States and China: Asymmetries (and Anxieties) Amplified

by Thomas Daniel & Kuik Cheng-Chwee

This essay traces recent developments in Malaysia’s asymmetrical relationships with the United States and China. It argues that while Malaysia has responded prudently to the escalating US–China rivalry and uncertainties, some aspects of its policies have raised anxieties internally and misinterpretations externally. This is attributable primarily to its elites’ internal preoccupations, policy indecisiveness, and bureaucratic inertia.

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