Chinese Net users reacted to the Malaysian opposition fanning flames of anti-Chinese sentiment with anger and shock, following China’s embassy harsh condemnation of a former leader’s rhetoric.

Malaysia’s former prime minister Mahathir bin Mohamad has clashed with one of the country’s powerful sultans in a growing dispute over a vast property project, the latest backlash against Chinese overseas investment, the Financial Times reported.

Mahathir attacked the Rm170 billion ($38 billion) Forest City project, a 14 square kilometer housing development at the southern tip of Malaysia, as a “foreign enclave,” the Financial Times said.

The report said Mahathir wrote on his blog that “Much of the most valuable land will now be owned and occupied by foreigners. In effect it will become foreign land.”

The Chinese embassy in Malaysia released a statement on its official website, harshly criticizing Mahathir’s comments. “Somebody applauded Sino-Malaysian relations in office but fanned the flame of anti-Chinese sentiment after.”

The embassy questioned how Malaysia can get respect internationally and earn the trust of Chinese in the country. “We can expose the lie behind claims that Chinese investment is stealing job opportunities from Malaysia,” the embassy said.

Some Chinese netizens expressed their disappointment, saying that it is shocking to see the country’s former leader making this kind of statement, while others called for a boycott of Malaysia. “Shall we boycott Malaysia for this?” Net user “jiemohu” wrote on Sina Weibo.

Another netizen “yuchundaxianglianzhuli” posted ” being an old friend for over a decade, Mahathir turned on China. It’s a big deal.”

“Chinese in Malaysia are very nice. We cannot take things to extremes,” Weibo user “Sheisaflower” said.