Malaysia-China ties built on mutual respect, understanding, says Anwar

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim highlighted the friendly and respectful attitude of Chinese leadership, emphasising the deep understanding of cultural differences during his recent interactions with Chinese Premier Li Qiang.

Anwar in his speech addressed the skepticism often expressed by international observers, particularly from Western countries, about the enhanced bilateral relationship between Malaysia and China.

He said critics frequently question whether such a comprehensive strategic partnership would be detrimental to Malaysia, a smaller nation.

"I have given assurances based on historical antecedents from the time of the emperors in China and the Sultans of Melaka. This visit by Premier Li Qiang, my esteemed friend, has proven the case. We engaged in hours of discussions without any arrogance or ultimatums.

"While there are contentious issues, we address them as equal partners and trusted friends... we engaged in hours of discussion as equal partners and trusted friends," he said this in his speech at the Malaysia-China Business Community luncheon here on Thursday (June 20).

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Highlighting the broader scope of Malaysia-China cooperation, Anwar touched on shared concerns such as the future of education, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), Artificial intelligence (AI) and digital advancements.

He also reiterated the mutual benefits of learning from each other and working together to improve the quality of life for the people in both countries as well as the importance of understanding and appreciating cultural and religious differences.

Anwar recalled organising a major international conference in 1995 on Islam and Confucianism, promoting ethical principles and humane economic practices and he was pleased that Chinese Premier Li Qiang also supported the idea of enhancing understanding and dialogue between Islam and Confucianism.

"I choose to say this because this itself is a rebuke and rebuttal to the incessant propaganda that we should cast aspersion and fear the dominance of China economically, militarily and technologically. We in Malaysia having a neutral stance, have the resolve to work with all countries and with China, we see Premier Li Qiang we see (China) as a friend that would work together with us, collaborate and proof to the world that this unity, this friendship is meaningful,” he said.

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The luncheon was also attended by Li, Investment, Trade and Industry Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz, China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao, delegations and members of the business communities.

Li arrived in Malaysia for an official three-day visit on Tuesday, the third and last leg of his eight-day tour that has taken him to New Zealand and Australia.

Li’s visit coincides with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and China, following the signing of the Joint Communiqué between second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and then Chinese Premier Chou En Lai on May 31, 1974.

China has remained Malaysia’s largest trading partner for 15 consecutive years since 2009, with total trade amounting to RM450.84 billion (US$98.90 billion) in 2023.

Malaysia’s ties with China have grown from strength to strength since the elevation of bilateral relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2013. - Bernama

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