Chinese radar, missile system for Johor?

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Malaysia will consider China's proposal to set up a regional counter-intelligence centre in Johor equipped with radar surveillance and a missile system.

According to a senior Malaysian government source, the proposal for the radar and missile system was "lightly touched on" during talks between Prime Minister Najib Razak and visiting Chinese State Councillor Wang Yong after the ground-breaking ceremony of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project in Kuantan yesterday.

The Malaysian Insight, a Kuala Lumpur-based news website, had reported that China would offer Malaysia up to 12 units of the AR3 multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) at the ceremony.

The government source told The Straits Times that discussions on the matter were still continuing and that a firm decision would be made only when Mr Najib meets Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is expected to make an official visit to Malaysia in November.

According to defence site, China's AR3 artillery rocket system is used to engage remote strategic targets like command centres and is capable of launching conventional rockets as well as guided missiles with a range of up to 280km.

According to Malaysian government officials, Mr Najib will not refuse China's offers to boost Malaysia's security capabilities if the financial assistance to take on these projects is attractive.

Meanwhile, Mr Najib hailed the upcoming railway linking its east coast to Port Klang on the western coast as an "alternative trade route", claiming that a projected 53 million tonnes of cargo will bypass Singapore annually by 2030. The RM 55 billion (S$17.5b) rail link, which will be built and funded by Chinese state firms, is slated for completion in 2024.

"It is estimated that 5.4 million passengers and 53 million tonnes of cargo will use the ECRL service annually by 2030 as the primary transport between the east and west coast," he said.