KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 — Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein defended using the term “Big Brother” to refer to his China counterpart Wang Yi, saying it was a sign of respect.

In a series of tweets today, Hishammuddin said he was only being respectful of his older and more senior counterpart and stressed that it is not a sign of weakness and submission of Malaysia towards China.

“The phrase I used was not referring to our bilateral relations as strong Malaysia-China ties are based on mutual trust and equality.

“Respecting that Wang Yi is older, and a more senior Foreign Minister; hence ‘elder brother’ to me personally. Being respectful does not signify weakness,” he posted on his official Twitter account.

Hishammuddin also added that under him, Malaysia’s foreign policy will continue to remain independent.

“Rest assured that Malaysia remains independent, principled and pragmatic in terms of our foreign policy — founded on the values of peace, humanity, justice, and equality.

“We will continue to contribute meaningfully towards a just and equitable community of nations,” he said.

Earlier today, Opposition leader and PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim criticised Hishammuddin for using what he termed as inappropriate terminology during a working visit to China.

Although he did not deny China is a friend to Malaysia with whom better trade and investment ties should be forged, Anwar expressed astonishment over the fact that Hishammuddin referred to the nation as Malaysia’s “big brother” during a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

“This is not the language and style that should be used in the diplomatic world and international relations, as it seemingly implies Malaysia is a puppet to a foreign power,” he said in a statement.

Hishammuddin visited China as part of the republic’s efforts to reach out to the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) in resolving the ongoing political crisis in Myanmar.

The meeting took place on Thursday, where the minister was reported to have told Wang that China and Malaysia are brothers, and that China would always be Malaysia’s elder brother.