China defends ambassador to Malaysia over comments critical of racism and extremism

Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Huang Huikang.
Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Huang Huikang. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Monday (Sept 28) defended the actions of its ambassador to Malaysia after he was summoned to clarify his remarks criticising extremism and racism ahead of a planned pro-Malay rally in the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Chinese Ambassador Huang Huikang had visited the popular Petaling Street market - known as Chinatown, last Friday as part of a visit to the Chinese community during the Mid-Autumn Festival, a traditional Chinese holiday that fell on Sunday, adding that it was a "normal" activity.

He said China did "not interfere in other countries'domestic politics nor 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," Mr Hong said at a daily news briefing.

Malaysia's Foreign Ministry summoned Dr Huang so that he could clarify comments that"attracted attention and caused concern to the Malaysian public".

The Star newspaper quoted Dr Huang as saying last Friday that China opposes "any form of discrimination against races and any form of extremism". He was speaking ahead of a planned rally by a Malay-dominated, pro-government group that was reported to be demanding more Malay participation in Petaling Street. Dr Huang had made the comments on a visit to Petaling Street.

Rally organizers said last Friday night they had cancelled the planned protest on advice from the police.

Mostly Malay "red shirts" took to the streets with 30,000 marchers in the middle of September to show support for Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is battling allegations of corruption and mismanagement at indebted state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

Critics said previous anti-government protests, led by a pro-democracy group called Bersih and which attracted many urban Chinese people, had insulted the country's Malay leaders.