Malaysia will continue using Huawei products “as much as possible,” bucking a global trend prompted by security concerns and a US ban on the Chinese firm, the country’s prime minister said Thursday.
Mahathir Mohamad, speaking at a conference in Tokyo, acknowledged the security concerns but said they would not deter Malaysia.
“Yes, there may be some spying. But what is there to spy (on) exactly in Malaysia? We are an open book,” the 93-year-old said at the Future of Asia forum.
Mahathir said Huawei had access to research “far bigger than the whole of Malaysia’s research equivalent.”
“So we try to make use of their technology as much as possible. Everybody knows, if any country wants to invade Malaysia, they can walk through, and we will not resist because it’s a waste of time,” he added.
His comment came after a wave of controversy over the Chinese telecommunications firm, which has been hit by allegations of espionage and faces a US ban.
A number of countries have blocked Huawei from working on their mobile networks and companies have stepped back from the firm after the US ban, citing legal requirements.
The spat comes as the United States and China raise tariffs in tit-for-tat moves along with blistering rhetoric accusing each other of unfair trade practices.
Mahathir warned about the heated exchanges between Beijing and Washington, which come as the powers and their allies lock horns in the hotly contested South China Sea. By investing more, the East has improved the products and the world must accept that new reality, he said.
“(For instance), I understand Huawei has a tremendous advantage over American technology.
“But if you want to have a situation where you are always ahead and when you are not ahead I will ban you and send warships to your country, that is not a competition, that is threatening people and that is not the approach to use.”