Razak Baginda: Dance with the Dragon, Don't Fight It

CHINA'S CLOUT

Razak Baginda: Dance with the Dragon, Don't Fight It

Everyone is on to China and Abdul Razak Baginda is hopping on the bandwagon. The man once associated with its northern neighbour Mongolia tells AWANI Review’s Zakiah Koya that there is much to gain from China’s military might and economic clout.

Analyst Abdul Razak Baginda speaks his mind, whether you like it or not. Probably because the man is already approaching 60, despite not a white strand to be seen on his head. The one advice he won’t charge you money for is to take his views or go elsewhere.

The democratic viewpoint is to listen to both sides - both sides of the argument, no one is a saint here. So I would like to fill that gap where there is more of a middle way, or at least a more global perspective

Having just returned to Malaysia a couple of years ago after a stint in Oxford University, Abdul Razak is now with ICON, a global affairs think tank on international affairs. 

He has recently been making the rounds in the academic circles analysing the positioning of China as the economic superpower of the world in this region and globally. 

Abdul Razak has always been known as an expert in international affairs. However, his forte has always been on issues pertaining the USSR and the Soviet bloc. 

When asked how it is that he has shifted geographically and what makes him an expert on China, Abdul Razak says he has never claimed that he is an authority on China. He insists that he does not force his views on anyone else and his views are in line with the democracy of dissenting views.

“I am not sure about people taking me seriously or not, that’s not the issue. The issue here is, this is my view, it’s there...deal with it. If you don’t like it, go somewhere else."

“The thing about viewpoint is that we have to be democratic in understanding. Then, there are dissenting views."

“Dissenting views are like this - if you are against the government, everything the government does is wrong; if you are pro-opposition, everything the opposition does is right. But that to me - that’s not democratic. That’s not a democratic viewpoint.

We have to be concerned with extending the Chinese to have control of the end product, for example, infrastructure products

“The democratic viewpoint is to listen to both sides - both sides of the argument, no one is a saint here. So I would like to fill that gap where there is more of a middle way, or at least a more global perspective,” says Abdul Razak.

At a recent talk on “China: Fighting or Dancing Dragon?” in Nottingham University in Semenyih, Abdul Razak gives his take on the fact that China is definitely a fire-breathing dragon but one cannot really pinpoint what it is doing with the expansion of its economic investments in all parts of the world.

He states that while Malaysians need not worry about China flexing  its  military might to protect its investment in this region, China would not hesitate to send its military to African countries to protect its own nationals there.

He also states that one has to beware of giving China control of its infrastructure, as happened in Sri Lanka where the ports are being managed by China because the former defaulted its payments. 

"We have to be concerned with extending the Chinese to have control of the end product, for example, infrastructure products. In the case of Sri Lanka, where the Sri Lankans have defaulted on its payments, the Chinese has now come up with new agreement of running the ports, and to me, that leads to interest to gaining some form of control in infrastructure," says Abdul Razak.

Obviously, the man has enough faith in the governance structure of Malaysian listed companies and is quite confident Malaysia will not suffer the same fate, should we dance with the dragon.

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