Pakatan Harapan today urged Putrajaya not to take any sides with any global powers after Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said he will seek China's view on the recent Australia-UK-US (Aukus) trilateral nuclear submarine deal.
In a statement, the Harapan presidential council described Hishammuddin's remark as "strange and misplaced", and that it made Malaysia look like a country that takes instructions from China.
They stressed that Malaysia is guided by its Defence White Paper, in which its principles outlined 'activist neutrality'.
"Activist neutrality simply means Malaysia is not sitting down or lying down when there is any attempt to infringe on its sovereignty and its non-aligned posture.
"Malaysia speaks up against the West if a potential arms race is detected. Likewise, Malaysia also actively influences China to respect the sovereignty of regional states, as well as Asean’s role in the region.
"We should not be seen choosing sides and giving the impression that Malaysia is taking instruction from anyone," they said.
Aukus is a trilateral alliance between the three countries, which would benefit Australia where it gets the technology to deploy nuclear-powered submarines.
The move is seen as an attempt by the Western bloc to counter China's growing influence and military presence, particularly in the South China Sea.
Malaysia has largely taken a non-aligned position with any global military superpower but has, on occasion, stood up against China's intrusions into its claimed territories.
On Wednesday, Hishammuddin told the Dewan Rakyat that he plans to make a working trip to China soon, where he would seek their view on Aukus and determine how China would respond to the new alliance.
This was not the first time the Sembrong MP has come under criticism for his remarks involving China.
In April, Hishammuddin came under fire after he described China as a "big brother" during a press conference with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing.
The minister later defended his remark, saying that he was referring to Wang Yi as he is older and more senior to him as a foreign minister, and thus he called the latter an "elder brother".