‘Bilateral cooperation’ a priority

BEIJING: The strong bilateral cooperation between Malaysia and China must continue to flourish to build a more resilient, inclusive and sustainable regional economic ecosystem, as the Asean region has become one of the fastest-growing regions in 2023, said Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Johari Abdul.

He added Malaysia should be seen as the gateway to Asean countries in this particular relationship.

As the world becomes more interconnected, one country’s wealth is frequently correlated with the prosperity of its neighbours, and the relationship between Malaysia and China is an illustration of Asean, he said.

“Although not geographically close, we have strong historical, cultural and economic relations as both countries have collaborated on many different fronts throughout the years, from trade and investment to education and tourism, showcasing the power of bilateral collaboration,” he said in his public lecture at Tsinghua University, Beijing, here yesterday, reported Bernama.

Johari also held a meeting with Tsinghua University’s president, Wang Xiqin.

From the Asean multilateral perspective, Johari said close strategic communication in the Asean-China partnership is essential to maintaining an Asean-centred regional architecture that is open and inclusive as well as conducive to regional peace and stability.

“As sustainability and viability become the agenda to map our futures, both parties must work together to enhance cooperation in artificial intelligence, renewable energy and food security.

“This can be attained by way of regional connectivity, expanding cultural, education, media, think tanks, sports, women, and youth exchanges to foster closer human connections,” he said, adding that the relationship between Asean and China is advantageous for both parties and functions as a pillar of regional stability and prosperity.

He said within the concept, Asean and China emerge as pivotal actors as the “Prosper-Thy-Neighbor” policy can serve as a framework for nurturing beneficial relations between China and its Asean neighbours, including Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.

“For instance, Asean and China could develop the Asian Food Hub to mitigate the food security issues that have become a global threat,” he said.

Johari, who is leading a delegation from the Malaysian Parliament, is on an official four-day visit to Beijing at the invitation of the chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China, Zhao Leji, following a bilateral meeting held in Kuala Lumpur on May 18 this year.

With Malaysia set to host the Asean Summit in 2025, Johari said it was crucial for the country to establish its position in the changing economic landscape, which is now largely concentrated in the Asean countries.

To achieve this goal, he believes that Malaysians, including those seeking opportunities abroad, as well as the major powers in the region, like China, should contribute to Malaysia’s development.

By doing so, he said, Malaysia could avoid falling behind other countries in the region and be able to lead Asean, he said at a session with the Malaysian Diaspora here on Sunday night.

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