Race, Debt and Sovereignty - The ‘China Factor’ in Malaysia’s GE14

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Discussion about China, Chinese projects, and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) featured prominently in Malaysia’s 2018 election campaign, prompting widespread international debate since May about the new government’s foreign policy aims and direction. In contrast to views that Malaysia is now ‘pushing back’ against China, this article argues that China’s role in the election cannot be understood without considering the ways in which it was deployed by Pakatan Harapan (PH) to communicate with voters about domestic issues. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad successfully used his opponents’ connections with China and the BRI to externalise voters’ concerns about ethnic Chinese political power in Malaysia, transferring these concerns on to the People’s Republic instead. PH’s campaign also connected Chinese projects with issues of debt and corruption, allowing Mahathir to portray his opponent, Prime Minister Najib Razak, along with the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal, as key sources of sovereign risk for Malaysia and Malaysians
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)717-728
    JournalThe Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


    Dive into the research topics of 'Race, Debt and Sovereignty - The ‘China Factor’ in Malaysia’s GE14'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this