BEIJING: Next year will be declared Malaysia-China Friendship Year to commemorate two important milestones in the historical ties between the two countries, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
The decision to hold celebrations and make such a declaration was announced at a bilateral meeting between Abdullah and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday.
The matter was also raised as a common agenda when Malaysian officials accompanying the Deputy Prime Minister met with their Chinese counterparts.
Next year will be the 600th anniversary of the travels of Admiral Zheng He (Cheng Ho), who initiated the first ties between China and the Malacca sultanate.
Abdullah pointed out that 2004 would also mark the 30th anniversary of the re-establishment of diplomatic ties for the two countries that were resumed when Tun Abdul Razak Hussein visited China in 1974.
“Wisma Putra will co-ordinate with other departments and ministries on the type of celebrations that will be planned,” Abdullah told Malaysian newsmen covering his five-day official visit.
On his talks with Wen, Abdullah said the Chinese Premier described the present state of ties between Malaysia and China “as the best it has ever been in the history of the two countries.”
“The Premier also said China saw Malaysia as a good friend whose close relations they appreciated.
He also urged me to ensure this continued relationship when I take over as Prime Minister.
“I gave him my assurances that I will do so and will continue to strengthen the ties when I take over,” Abdullah added.
The two leaders also spoke at length about economic ties, and Wen envisaged that total trade between the two countries could reach US$20bil (RM76bil) next year.
“I agreed with him that such a sum was not impossible given the growing trade between our countries,” the Malaysian leader said.
Last year, two-way trade stood at US$14bil (RM53.2bil) while in the first six months of this year, the sum had already reached US$8.7bil (US$33.06bil).
Abdullah said he reiterated Malaysia’s stand on the “One China” policy and emphasised that Malaysia’s ties with Taiwan were merely economic.
He also revealed that China would sign a treaty of amity and economic co-operation with Asean at the grouping’s summit in Bali next month.
“This is a sure sign of China’s friendship with Asean,” he added.
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