A Thousand Sages have but One Mind: The Forging of a Joint Chinese-Muslim Identity

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Alexander Wain

Abstract

Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Abdul Razak’s recent six-day trip to China revives a long tradition of Malay-Chinese co-operation stretching all the way back to the Melaka Sultanate. During the early fifteenth century, three of Melaka’s Sultans travelled to China in person, where they vied with other nations to forge a special relationship with the Middle Kingdom. As a result, Melaka became China’s closest ally, ultimately acting as a base for all Chinese activity in the Nusantara. It was largely because of this close co-operation and the immense wealth that it generated, that Melaka subsequently became the Nusantara’s first great Islamic power, able to disseminate Islam throughout the region.

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