Malaysia summoned China’s ambassador over allegedly offensive comments made in a racially charged political conflict, the foreign ministry said Sunday, dpa reports.

China’s ambassador to Malaysia Huang Huikang

The ministry said it asked ambassador Huang Huikang for a meeting Monday to clarify statements he made in a predominantly Chinese district of Kuala Lumpur late last week.

“During the visit, he was interviewed by the media and subsequent media statements resulting from that interview have attracted attention and caused concern to the Malaysian public,” the ministry said.

The ambassador’s statement that Beijing would not tolerate violent demonstrations in Malaysia was seen as a veiled threat during a time of increasing racial tension.

“The Chinese government opposes terrorism and any form of discrimination against races and any form of extremism,” Huang was quoted as saying.

Huang allegedly warned that Beijing would regard such incidents as damaging to bilateral relations.

Police have increased security in a district of central Kuala Lumpur amid persistent rumours that Malay supporters of the government planned to march through the area to protest alleged abuses of Chinese traders.

Nurul Izzah Anwar, daughter of jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, urged Muslims to unite against efforts of some political sectors to disrupt social harmony.

“The racism we have been seeing belongs to the Stone Age,” she said.

Tens of thousands of pro-government ethnic Malays wearing red shirts gathered in central Kuala Lumpur two weeks ago to show their support for embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is under pressure to resign over corruption allegations.

One group of protesters attempted to barge into predominantly Chinese business districts, but were stopped by police.

The demonstrators accused the ethnic Chinese of disrespecting Malay leaders, including Najib.

Escalating racial rhetoric and rallies are distracting Malaysia from sorely needed social and economic reforms, The Economist said Friday.

The report also said that Malaysia’s Asean neighbors were worried over the risks of serious altercations as more “red shirt” rallies are planned.

“The spats are distracting the government from tricky and badly needed social and economic reforms. They are also worrying ethnically pluralist neighbours, such as Singapore, which frets about infection,” the weekly newspaper said.

Malaysia’s population of 30 million consists of 67.4 per cent Malays and indigenous communities, 24.6 per cent Chinese, 7.3 per cent Indians and 0.7 per cent others, according to the Department of Statistics.

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