BEIJING: Wrapping up his four-day engagements here, the first leg of his six-day China tour, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak sounded very upbeat, even passionate, about a rising China and the strengthening Sino-Malaysian relationship.
He told a meet-the-Malaysians dinner at the Malaysian Embassy here on Saturday that his last four days in Beijing had been an eye-opener for many reasons and in many ways.
He was impressed not only by the rapid changes in China but also by the single-mindedness of the Chinese in their pursuits for development, their focus and pragmatism which he said Malaysians could learn.
As he wound up his unexpectedly long speech, he told Malaysians to expand their linkages with the Chinese to seize the huge opportunities and, for those studying and working in China, to be good ambassadors in “selling” the country.
“We have won their hearts, and now go win their minds,” he urged, alluding to Malaysia’s decision in establishing diplomatic relationship with Communist China in 1974.
In his assessment, Najib said, while it is a cliché to talk about the strategic importance of China, one has to see for oneself how the Chinese succeeded in making China an economic juggernaut to really comprehend the full meaning of it.
“China is changing and changing fast. The China today is a new China,” he said, adding that its economy could overtake the United States by 2050 or earlier if it was to grow at an annual rate of 8%.
“There are a few things that Malaysia can and should learn from the Chinese to accelerate development,” Najib observed.
Firstly, the Chinese are very focused with whatever they want to achieve. Once they set their goals, nothing else matters.
“The late Chinese leader Deng Xiaopeng once said that it does not matter whether it is a white or black cat, as long as it can catch the mouse, it is a good cat. This is the essence of pragmatism.
“For all intents and purposes, communism is just a name. If the Chinese achieved a success, they simply call it socialism or Chinese socialism.”
Secondly, they believe in young people and they invest in human capital development, especially in high-tech industries.
“The Chinese believes and invests in young people. We must do likewise as we need their new ideas and creativity if we are to be successful,” he observed.
Touching on the never-ending debate whether China “is a threat, competitor or an opportunity,” Najib said:
“Is it a competitor? Sure it is. But then, we compete even among ourselves, among our own companies at home and abroad. So, what’s new?
“The important task ahead is to develop our existing linkages, sharpen our competitiveness so that we can expand our co-operation in every sector as Malaysia has already laid the strong foundation in 1974.” he stressed.
That, in a nutshell, is the message he sent to all Malaysians in China and also one that he will bring home.