Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim on Thursday rejected the notion that China’s dominance is to be feared, calling China a “true friend” at the end of Premier Li Qiang’s visit to mark 50 years of diplomatic ties between their countries.

While the leaders raised some contentious bilateral issues, Anwar said they discussed them as “equal partners, as trusted friends”. He didn’t give details but likely referred to the prickly issue of overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea.

“People say, well, Malaysia is a growing economy. Don’t let China abuse its privilege and extort from the country. I said no. To the contrary, we want to benefit from one another, we want to learn from one another and we want to profit from this engagement,” Anwar told some 200 business leaders at a luncheon attended by Li.

Anwar said he rebuked the “incessant propaganda that we should cast aspersions and fear the dominance of China economically, militarily, technologically.”

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