Malaysian PM Anwar Ibrahim advocates for diplomacy, opposes external interference in South China Sea dispute

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim calls for diplomatic engagement and rejects external interference in the South China Sea dispute, emphasising the need for regional cooperation and peaceful resolution through ASEAN-led initiatives to maintain stability and sovereignty.

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has made a strong call for diplomatic engagement and regional cooperation to address the ongoing disputes in the South China Sea, firmly rejecting any external interference.

Speaking at a recent regional summit, Anwar emphasised that the South China Sea, a critical maritime route and resource-rich area, should be managed through dialogue and mutual respect among the claimant states. He reiterated that disputes over the sea’s various territories should be resolved through existing diplomatic channels and international legal frameworks such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This approach aims to prevent escalation and ensure stability in the region, which is crucial for the economic and security interests of Southeast Asian nations.

Anwar’s call for regional solutions aligns with Malaysia’s historical position of advocating for multilateral dialogue and negotiation. He stressed that external powers should respect the sovereignty and interests of Southeast Asian nations, pointing out that interference from non-regional actors often complicates the situation and heightens tensions. This position reflects a broader ASEAN perspective that emphasises the importance of maintaining a region-led approach to the South China Sea issue, resisting pressures from larger global powers such as the United States and China.

The Prime Minister also highlighted the significance of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and the ongoing efforts to formulate a more binding Code of Conduct (COC). These mechanisms are seen as essential tools for fostering trust, preventing conflicts, and ensuring that the South China Sea remains a sea of peace, stability, and cooperation. Anwar’s comments underline the need for continued commitment to these diplomatic processes and the avoidance of actions that could undermine regional trust and cooperation.

Anwar’s stance comes amidst increasing geopolitical tensions in the region, with various powers showing heightened interest in the strategic waters of the South China Sea. His firm rejection of external interference resonates with the broader sentiment among ASEAN members, who advocate for a peaceful and cooperative approach to managing disputes.