Mahathir says escalating US-China trade war not good for the world

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad delivers a speech during the 25th International Conference on the Future Of Asia in Tokyo on May 30, 2019. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP)


(Eagle News) – Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said that the escalating US-China trade war is affecting other nations, as he urged more dialogue between the two superpowers.

Mahathir was the keynote speaker in the opening of the 25th Future of Asia conference in Tokyo on Thursday, May 30, which is sponsored by Nikkei.

The 93-year old Southeast Asian leader said that the US-China trade war is creating instability and uncertainty in the world.

“We know that the situation in the world is not stable. It is a very unstable situation. There is a confrontation between America and China and all these things are not good for the whole world,” Mahathir said at the start of his keynote address.

“We are all affected even if we are not part of the contestants, because two giants are fighting each other,” he said.

“And as they say, when two elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled, or whatever creature is underneath,” he stressed.

The Malaysian leader who is much respected and sought for his views in various world fora said that increased dialogue is always a better way to achieve peace and resolve conflicts.

He said that war between US and China is certainly not a solution

“It is better to get to the table and talk about differences and try to find ways to resolve them,” Mahathir said.

He said that while not all issues could be resolved when the two world powers decide to sit down and talk,  this option is better as it could lead to “at least some understanding of each other.”

“Certain concessions can be made by both countries, and that will be a better solution,” Mahathir said.

“One thing that is certain is that war between US and China is not a solution. It will result in greater destruction than if there were very prolonged negotiations,” he told the conference in Tokyo which is attended by other global leaders.

On Thursday, May 31, at the close of the conference, Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte will deliver the keynote speech.

-Asian markets slump over slowdown fears-

Asian markets largely fell Thursday as Beijing ratcheted up its rhetoric against Washington, fanning investor anxiety over the US-China trade war and a potential global economic slowdown.

With no date set for tariff talks to resume in the US-China trade war, and Beijing accusing Washington of “naked economic terrorism” on Thursday in its handling of the dispute, investors appeared resigned to the prospect of the spat extending into the summer.

“We are against the trade war, but we are not afraid of it,” Chinese vice foreign minister Zhang Hanhui said at a press briefing.

“This premeditated instigation of a trade conflict is naked economic terrorism, economic chauvinism, and economic bullying,” Zhang added.

A veiled threat by Beijing on Wednesday to cut critical exports of rare earths to the United States intensified concerns.

It was the latest salvo in a months-long row that has seen Washington and Beijing slap tit-for-tat tariffs on imports, with US

President Donald Trump upping the ante in recent weeks by blacklisting Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

Any move by China, which produces 95 percent of the world’s rare earths, to restrict exports to the US would have a devastating impact on manufacturers of everything from smartphones to computers to lightbulbs.

(with a report from Agence France Presse)