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Asia Insight

China emerges as wild card in elections across Asia

Incumbents draw on Beijing's support as opponents tap resentment of its influence

MARWAAN MACAN-MARKAR, Asia regional correspondent | China

KUALA LUMPUR/COLOMBO -- As he campaigned ahead of last month's Malaysian general election, Mahathir Mohamad, the veteran politician, deftly tapped into resentment of Chinese investments in his country to build support. It is an increasingly familiar strategy across Asia: From Cambodia to Pakistan to the Maldives, all of which are headed for national elections this year, opposition forces are using Chinese-funded ventures to draw blood from incumbent governments. 

For Mahathir, the investments were an easy target. The nonagenarian, now back for his second stint as prime minster after leading the opposition alliance to a shock victory, had plenty of opportunities to play the China card.

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