M’sia gets vaccine priority

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia will be given priority recipient status for Chinese-produced Covid-19 vaccines once the country finishes developing them, says Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

His China counterpart Wang Yi said the decision to accord Malaysia the priority status on the vaccines was due to the long and traditional friendship of the two nations.

Hishammuddin said the country was appreciative of China’s commitment to prioritise Malaysia in the development of the Covid-19 vaccine.

“On Covid-19 vaccine development, we welcome and appreciate China’s commitment in providing Malaysia with Chinese-produced Covid-19 vaccines, once successfully developed, and listing Malaysia as a priority recipient.

“We welcome China’s agreement to encourage Chinese enterprises to establish all-round cooperation with Malaysian partners in vaccine research and development, and distribution,” Hishammuddin said during a joint press conference with Wang here.

The minister was speaking after a bilateral meeting with Wang at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur. Prior to that, the two top diplomats were engaged in a face-to-face talk.

Wang, who is also China’s State Councillor, said Malaysia was a good friend of China.

“We enjoy a traditional friendship. If Malaysia needs the vaccine, we are open to that and we stand ready to pursue detailed consultation on this collaboration,” Wang said.

He also said China was progressing well with its development of Covid-19 vaccines.

“Right now, there are eight vaccines in the world that are currently under the third phase of clinical trials.

“Four of them are being developed by China,” added the Chinese diplomat.

At the meeting, both countries had agreed to a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the post-Covid-19 era.

A high-level committee on post-Covid-19 cooperation, set to be co-chaired by the two ministers, will also be established.

On the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) project, Hishammuddin said both countries would only launch it when the situation was safe.

“We agreed to continue discussions for cross-border movements for business and official travel.

“While the pandemic still sees no end, it is important for us to plan and discuss early.

“Therefore, we will jointly launch the RGL once the situation permits for both countries to do so,” he added.

The bilateral meeting also discussed palm oil trade, food security and the Belt and Road Initiative.

On the South China Sea issue, the two countries agreed that maintaining peace and stability in the region was of utmost importance.

“Disputes should be addressed through peaceful means, including through regional dialogues and discussions among the parties concerned, without resorting to threat or the use of force,” said Hishammuddin.

Wang is on a visit to Malaysia as part of a South-East Asian tour.

After the meeting, Wang left for Singapore and is scheduled to visit Laos and Thailand after that.

His last visit to Malaysia was in 2018.

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