Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia said Tuesday it had summoned China`s ambassador to explain his controversial remarks on racism following a recent pro-government rally which saw protesters denounce the country`s Chinese minority.
Beijing`s envoy Huang Huikang on Friday visited Kuala Lumpur`s Chinatown where ethnic Malay hardliners chanted slogans against the community earlier this month, raising fears of conflict in the multi-ethnic nation.
"The Chinese government opposes terrorism and any form of discrimination against races and any form of extremism," Huang was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper during the visit.
His comments, which are at odds with China`s policy not to interfere in other nations` internal affairs, prompted Malaysia`s foreign ministry to call in the ambassador "to provide an explanation".
Malaysia`s Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, who is in New York, said Kuala Lumpur wished "to verify whether his statement was misinterpreted or otherwise". Huang met Acting Foreign Minister Hamzah Zainuddin on Monday.
According to The Star, Huang on Friday also said Beijing would not be afraid to speak out against incidents that could derail Malaysia-China relations.
Ser Choon Ing, secretary general of the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, a coalition of Chinese community groups, welcomed the ambassador`s visit and his remarks.
"I don`t think it can be considered interference. What the ambassador did was probably a good thing for the Chinese and also for Indians who feel discriminated against," he said.
China`s foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei on Monday defended the ambassador`s actions as "normal".
He said: "We refrain from interfering into other countries` internal affairs.
"What our ambassador did was normal, he was visiting the Chinese community during the Mid-Autumn festival. We hope that Malaysia can remain united and stable, and that people from different ethnic groups can live together in peace."
Speaking at a business conference on Monday in Kuala Lumpur, Huang stressed China and Malaysia enjoyed good relations.
"China and Malaysia have a long history of friendship. Malaysia was the earliest ASEAN country to have diplomatic ties with China and after 41 years both countries have close relations in politics, economy, culture, military, tourism and other fields," he said.
Many Kuala Lumpur businesses run by Chinese -- who make up about a quarter of Malaysia`s population -- were shut for the September 16 rally, which saw riot police fire water cannon on ethnic Malay protesters.
At least several thousand demonstrators marched through the heart of the capital to declare support for Prime Minister Najib Razak, a Malay who is facing calls to step down over a financial scandal.
The demonstration was one of the clearest public displays yet of what many Malaysian moderates warn is a worrying trend toward racial and religious intolerance among Malays.