Malaysia’s ex-Premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad seems to prefer president-elect Joe Biden to fallen US President Donald Trump, hitting at the latter’s “silly trade war” with China and hoping the new leader will be different.
In Dr Mahathir’s gamble, he says he believes Biden will not continue the trade war with China.
Since July 2018, the US urged China to adopt policy changes to protect American intellectual property and make China’s market more accessible to U.S. companies.
Trump accused China of stealing American technology and currency manipulation. He said America will win the trade war, to which Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader, responded by saying there are no winners in a trade war.
China hit back at the US with tariffs and other measures in a tit-for-tat response against Trump’s attacks on China.
Dr Mahathir had to deal with the Trump administration for 22 months until his dramatic resignation as PM in February last year.
The elderly politician has never been kind to Trump, calling him names and promising to lambast him if he had the chance to have a face-to-face with the American president.
The ex-Malaysian PM who is rarely kind to American leaders, says Asia can expect Biden to improve ties with traditionally supportive nations and end the “silly trade war” with China.
“I expect it to be different from Trump because Trump knew practically nothing about Southeast Asia,” Mahathir said in an interview recorded for Reuters.
The interview, Reuters said, was recorded on Jan. 7 and broadcast at the Reuters Next conference yesterday (Thursday).
“Trump used to be against almost every country, but now I think Biden would want to reverse that policy and have some understanding or friendly relations with many of the countries, which in the past have been quite supportive of America.”
On Biden, the 94-year-old Dr Mahathir said, “I don’t believe he is going to continue with this silly trade war with China. There should be some attempt to solve some problems of the imbalance in the trade, but to have the trade war is not something that I think Biden will continue.”
Mahathir said Malaysia, like most countries, needs to be more sensitive to what China wants as the Asian powerhouse was too big to confront issues such as trade imbalances or human rights violations.
“China has not treated Muslims there well, but we cannot confront them… we have to be very careful with how we deal with China,” he said.
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