China defends actions of its envoy to Malaysia

Chinese Ambassador Huang Huikang (centre) at Malaysia's Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism. The envoy met Acting Foreign Minister Hamzah Zainuddin, who is standing in for Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, yesterday, but it was not clear w
Chinese Ambassador Huang Huikang (centre) at Malaysia's Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism. The envoy met Acting Foreign Minister Hamzah Zainuddin, who is standing in for Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, yesterday, but it was not clear what was discussed at the meeting.PHOTO: SIN CHEW DAILY

Ambassador's visit to Chinatown a normal activity, says Foreign Ministry spokesman

China has defended the actions of its Ambassador to Malaysia who was asked by the Foreign Ministry yesterday to clarify remarks that seemingly criticised a pro-Malay rally in Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said yesterday that Ambassador Huang Huikang's visit to Petaling Street for the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival was a "normal" activity.

Mr Hong pointed out that China "adheres to principles of peace coexistence" and "does not interfere in other countries' domestic politics or intervene in other countries' internal affairs".

"China and Malaysia are friendly neighbours, we hope that Malaysia can maintain national unity and stability and ethnic harmony," he said at a daily news briefing.

Dr Huang had raised eyebrows with his remarks made at Petaling Street last Friday when he said that China "opposes terrorism and any form of discrimination against races", in an apparent reference to a pro-Malay "red shirt" rally that took place on Sept 16.

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China and Malaysia are friendly neighbours, we hope that Malaysia can maintain national unity and stability and ethnic harmony.

CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN HONG LEI

He also warned that China "will not sit idly by" when there is "infringement on China's national interests or violations of legal rights and interests of Chinese citizens and businesses".

The remarks sparked calls in Malaysia for Dr Huang to apologise or to be sent back to China.

The Chinese Ambassador yesterday met Acting Foreign Minister Hamzah Zainuddin, who is standing in for Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, currently in New York for the United Nations General Assembly with Prime Minister Najib Razak .

It was not clear what was discussed at the meeting, which one media report said lasted nearly 21/2 hours. A Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said it would release a statement later but none had been issued at press time.

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin yesterday urged outsiders not to interfere in the internal affairs of Malaysia.

He said Dr Huang's remarks could be interpreted as interfering in the affairs of the country.

"Whatever happens in Malaysia, we will resolve the matter internally," said Mr Khairy, who is also Youth and Sports Minister .

"But we need to send a signal to other countries that whatever happens in Malaysia, is our business," he added, according to a Malay Mail Online report.

Analysts have said that Dr Huang's comments were unusual for a diplomat, who would have been aware of the sensitivities of such a statement in Malaysia where racial issues have increasingly polarised society.

The Sin Chew Daily said yesterday that a meeting took place on Sunday night between Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz and Dr Huang. The report was accompanied by a photo showing the two men at a dinner table together with five other people who were not identified.

Sin Chew said that after the meeting, Mr Nazri explained the envoy's "dilemma" to his fellow Cabinet colleagues, who agreed that Dr Huang need not explain himself to the Foreign Ministry. Mr Nazri added that only the Prime Minister or the Foreign Minister had the authority to summon an ambassador.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2015, with the headline 'China defends actions of its envoy to Malaysia'. Print Edition | Subscribe