Malaysia to buy navy vessels from China in blow to U.S!

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak talks to the media beside Indonesia's President Joko Widodo after a bilateral meeting at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, August 1, 2016. REUTERS/Beawiharta


Malaysia will sign a contract to purchase Littoral Mission Ships from China when Prime Minister Najib Razak visits Beijing next week, according to a Facebook posting by the country's Ministry of Defence.

The text of a speech to be delivered by Malaysian defense minister Hishammuddin Hussein was posted on Facebook on Tuesday, but was later removed after Reuters asked a defense ministry spokesman for comment.

The purchase of the patrol vessels, if it proceeds, would be Malaysia's first significant defense deal with China and comes amid rising tensions in the South China Sea and as the United States and China compete for influence in the region.

China's foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Friday he was "unclear on the specifics of the situation". But responding to a Reuters question at the daily ministry briefing he noted China and Malaysia "continue to cooperate and communicate regularly across all spheres".

Malaysia's ties with the United States became strained after the Department of Justice filed lawsuits linked to a money-laundering investigation at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which Najib founded and had overseen as chairman of its advisory council.
Najib is traveling to China on Sunday for a week-long visit.

"On November 5, 2016, the Defence Ministry will sign a contract for the procurement of Littoral Mission Ships (LMS) with SASTIND (the State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense), which is an important part of the schedule during the Prime Minister's official visit to China," the Facebook post quotes Hishammuddin saying.

However, a video recording of the speech at the Malaysian defense ministry by Hishammuddin does not mention this contract.

A defense ministry spokesman declined to comment and the prime minister's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


Sources: Reuters

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