Ties growing stronger 46 years on

“BUKIT sama didaki, lurah sama dituruni.” I have come to know this Malay proverb well since my appointment to Malaysia two years ago, and I have quoted it countless times. As we are observing the 46th anniversary of China-Malaysia diplomatic relations on May 31, this proverb comes to mind yet again.

Needless to say, this year is an unusual one in the history of China-Malaysia diplomatic relations. The Covid-19 outbreak has caught the world off guard, casting its shadow throughout the world in just a couple of months.

It has been threatening the lives, well-being and safety of every single individual in every single country, China and Malaysia included. Now, humanity is facing the trial of the most grievous public health emergency since the end of World War II.

As President Xi Jinping has rightly put, viruses respect no borders and epidemics do not distinguish between races. Confronted by the ravaging Covid-19, people all over the world have tackled this challenge head on.

We have looked out for each other, pulled together as one and demonstrated the love and compassion that make us human.

In all our heroic feats and deeds against the pandemic, we find the spirit of a shared future for mankind, and this spirit has in turn bestowed people in every country confidence and strength to go on.

China-Malaysia relations have also withstood the test of this pandemic.

There is a Chinese saying that goes, “Only the toughest grass can withstand the strongest wind, as only a true friend can withstand the test of time.”

This pandemic is just like a mirror, reflecting not only the true colours of those hypocrites whose only intention is to put the blame on others, but also true friends who would stand by us through weal and woe.

It moves me, seeing that by our tangible, pragmatic actions, China and Malaysia have lived up to the image portrayed in the lyrics of Sahabat Sejati, the theme song for the 45th anniversary of China-Malaysia diplomatic relations released last year: “Bahu kananku menghalang angin dan hujan untukmu, bahu kiriku untukmu berpaut.” (“My right shoulder shelters you from the wind and rain, my left shoulder is for you to lean on.”)

It moves me, seeing that China and Malaysia have shown the world that true partners are not only

those sharing opportunities during favourable circumstances, but also those sharing burdens in the face of adversity.

We are all in the same boat fighting this pandemic. China and Malaysia have been looking out for each other, setting a prime example of good neighbourliness and mutual support.

In the past, China and Malaysia have been close brothers since the time Admiral Cheng Ho sailed the ocean; today, China and Malaysia are close partners on the Maritime Silk Road. What’s more, we are comrades in arms in this long battle against Covid-19 to claim common victory.

“Bosom friends make distance disappear.”

Forty-six years ago on this exact day, Malaysia was among the first Asean countries to establish diplomatic relations with China, prefacing the overture to a long-lasting friendship.

In the past 46 years, through all the ups and downs, China-Malaysia relations have remained robust and stable, and eventually become an abiding friendship that compasses all areas and bears fruitful cooperation.

Our strong ties do not come from nowhere. It comes from the fact that China and Malaysia have always treated each other in a friendly manner. It comes from the political mutual trust that we have accumulated throughout the years. And it comes from the tight bond between our two peoples that makes us brothers and sisters.

Moreover, above all is that the China-Malaysia friendship realises the common aspirations and interests of our people. Everyone is counting on China-Malaysia relations to reach greater heights as it enables the people of both countries to reap the fruits of this warm ties that will prosper the lives of everyone. This modest expectation is deeply rooted and resonated among the people of two countries.

In the past 46 years, the world has changed and so have our two countries. However, our brotherhood has never wavered, not even a bit. Standing at the historical mark of this 46-year-long China-Malaysia relations, I have high confidence and high hopes for the future of our friendship.

China-Malaysia relations have strong foundations, huge potential and broad aspects, and I firmly believe that we will overcome all difficulties and scale the new heights together.

I look forward to China and Malaysia carrying on the joint cooperation as sincere partners to combat Covid-19. Ever since the outbreak, China and Malaysia have assisted each other in areas such as supply contribution, experience sharing, joint prevention and control.Moving forward, China and Malaysia could cooperate on formulating national and regional public health cooperation as efforts to jointly build a community of common health for mankind and safeguard the health and wellbeing of people in both countries.

I also look forward to China and Malaysia working together to surmount the economic gloom.

Both countries can forge ahead with flagship projects such as the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) and “Two Countries, Twin Parks” to optimise trade structure and expand the scale of trade while enhancing infrastructure development and connectivity, transforming Malaysia into the logistics hub of South-East Asia.

China is inclined to increase investment in Malaysia to spearhead the digital economy and emerging industries in supporting Malaysia to become a prime industrial nation.

But what I look forward to the most is China and Malaysia emerging as the driving forces of world peace and development. International order, contemporary ethos and global governance are reshaping rapidly, and a new chapter in history is about to open.

China and Malaysia, being two important countries in Asia, will need to play an active role by becoming the model for political and economic stability and regional cooperation in Asia while upholding regional peace, multilateralism and international justice, advocating effective and fairer global governance, and maintaining peaceful development and the diversity of civilisations.

Malaysia will be hosting the Apec Summit this year. We look forward to working together with Malaysia to enhance regional economic integration and to strengthen the international trade system, leaving a mark on Apec history.

When the world is in harmony, China and Malaysia can do more together. When our cooperation strengthens, the world too will prosper. As long as we work with each other, “bukit sama didaki, lurah sama dituruni”. There is no mountain too high that we cannot conquer, and there is no trench too deep that we cannot surpass.

Happy 46th birthday, China-Malaysia diplomatic relations! May you thrive and reach greater heights that will in turn prosper China and Malaysia, and bless the wellbeing of our two peoples.

Bai Tian is the Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia.

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