After the end of cold war, there was a shift in the foreign policy of Malaysia and China was not considered as a threat. This was the reason for the support of China. China in turn supported the position of Mahathir in the Asian Values and human rights debate. In the year 1996, when Philippines was trying to bring more and more international pressure in China over the mischief reef occupation, the defence minister of China stated that there was peace between China and Malaysia. In the late 1990s, when Asian Financial Crises were observed, China provided assistance to some of the badly hit economies in South East Asia, Malaysia again supported China in the dispute. The statement that China is not a threat to Malaysia was criticized by the other ASEAN members.
The response of China over the claims of Malaysia has been much gentler in comparison to its response on Vietnam and Philippines. An example of the same is the silence of China when the sultan of Malaysia visited Terumbu Layanglayang and protested against the constriction of economic zone by Vietnam. China was even silent when Malaysia occupied some of the areas claimed by Philippines.
Though the attitude of Malaysia towards these regions has not only been shaped by the support for China, it has also been unwilling to undertake the hard balancing behavior and has been giving more preference for the bilateral solutions rather than the ones in which the third parties are involved.
However, Malaysia also became displeasure for China when it joined with Vietnam on the claims for Continental self. In addition to this, in 2010 Malaysia further upgraded its participation to US Led Cobra Gold military exercises. In addition to this, it also stood up with many other ASEAN nations for the consultations over a code of conduct before discussing the same with China. Also, Malaysia had also been supportive for Philippines and Vietnam during the ASEAN debacle for foreign ministers, when Chair Cambodia opposed the mention of Scarborough Shoal. Some scholars have been criticizing the approach of China and Malaysia. One such scholar is Nazery Khalid of MIMA who criticized China for insisting on a bilateral solution even if it was clearly rejected.