Malaysia and China: rhetoric and reality
Prompted by geopolitical developments, elite views of the PRC gradually shifted in the late 1960s, but it was not until Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak took office in 1970 that Malaysia took the first steps towards recognizing the PRC. On 31 May 1974, Malaysia became the first ASEAN member to establish formal diplomatic relations with China. Prime Minister Razak had taken this bold step in expectation that Beijing would support his proposal for a neutral Southeast Asia and break off ties with the CPM. To his dismay, however, expectations did not align with reality, and Beijing’s steadfast support for Malaysia’s communist movement acted as a break on the development of bilateral relations.