China-Malaysia relations: Sailing towards a bright shared future

SPRING is the season of hope and joy when everything bursts into life. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's official visit to China ended with great success when his plane departed from Beijing Capital International Airport in early spring.

This is a historic visit with a number of firsts. It is the first-time meeting between leaders of China and Malaysia and both have just finished their respective new-term government formation. Prime Minister Anwar is among the first group of foreign dignitaries received by China’s new-term government. This is also Prime Minister Anwar’s first official visit to China since taking office.

President Xi Jinping met with Prime Minister Anwar on the afternoon of March 31 at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing where the two leaders reached a consensus on jointly building the China-Malaysia community with a shared future. It is the most important political achievement of the visit.

Building the China-Malaysia community with a shared future is the continuity of the millennium-old friendship between China and Malaysia. President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Anwar both recalled the history of Admiral Zheng He (Cheng Ho)’s seven voyages to the “Western Ocean” dating back to 600 years ago, five of which include visits to Melaka. Prime Minister Anwar also spoke about the “Bukit Cina” and Chinese mosques in Melaka, and commented “The significance of Admiral Zheng He's voyages has gone far beyond that of economic exchanges. It is the communication of cultures and convergence of civilizations."

The vision of building the China-Malaysia community with a shared future bears the same spirit as the core of the convergence of two civilizations. President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Anwar exchanged their understandings on philosophical issues, worldviews, social values and world civilizations, etc. Prime Minister Anwar smiled with agreement when hearing President Xi Jinping quoted the famous Confucius saying of “Zheng Zhe Zheng Ye (To govern means to rectify)” in their talk. The warm talk and spiritual resonance between the two leaders impressed all those who were present.

Building the China-Malaysia community with a shared future is a vivid reflection of the win-win cooperation between our two countries. During this visit, Premier Li Qiang and Prime Minister Anwar jointly witnessed the signing of a series of cooperation documents between the two countries covering areas of economy and trade, agriculture and customs service, etc. Three hundred members of Prime Minister Anwar’s delegation are Malaysian entrepreneurs who have followed Prime Minister Anwar all the way to Beijing to contribute their bit in boosting the economy. A thousand business leaders from both countries gathered together to exchange views and share wisdom, working hard to jointly promote the development of China-Malaysia relations. Nineteen business Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) have been signed as a fruitful outcome of this visit, the total value of which amounted to RM170bil, hitting a new record high in history.

Building the China-Malaysia community with a shared future adds new footnotes to China-Malaysia “weathering-through-thick-and-thin” brotherhood. Prime Minister Anwar clearly told Premier Li Qiang that “Malaysia and China are friends sharing weal and woe together. Malaysians of all walks of life are committed to strengthening friendship with China. The Unity Government takes further in developing friendly relations with China as its priority task.” Both Premier Li Qiang and Prime Minister Anwar called for strengthening unity and cooperation to jointly cope with risks and challenges at the Boao Forum.

“Many of the ideas and proposals pioneered by President Xi Jinping, especially the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, coincide with the idea of 'Malaysia Madani'. This is the reason why we have chosen to openly support this vision.” Prime Minister Anwar’s statement at the end of the visit showed his high expectations for the future development of China-Malaysia relations and his full recognition of the vision of building the China-Malaysia community with a shared future.

Leaders of both countries have mapped out the blueprint of China-Malaysia's future relations and pointed out the direction we are to follow. Then, how should we implement the blueprint and bring tangible benefits to the people of both countries and the region? I would like to share my perspective as follows:

Building the China-Malaysia community with a shared future is a great vision. We must further enhance development strategy alignment, deepen high-quality cooperation, organically integrate the realisation of Chinese modernisation with the implementation of “Malaysia Madani” and bring more benefits to peoples of both countries. We should advocate the Asian civilization, support Asean centrality and jointly push forward the implementation of the Global Development Initiative, Security Initiative and Civilization Initiative. We should jointly make new contributions to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

Building China-Malaysia community with a shared future requires specific tasks to be done. We must continue to fully implement the “Belt and Road Initiative” flagship projects which will both bring development opportunities to local areas and job opportunities to local people. “Two Countries, Twin Parks” and the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) are two signature ones. We need to strengthen cooperation in agricultural trade, enhance cultural and educational exchanges and carry out more people-to-people connection programs. Also, we should stand closer with each other in dealing with international issues and jointly safeguard our common interests.

A Chinese saying tells, “Spring is the best season to start implementing the whole year’s plan.” We are now rightly in this best season. Let’s start our new journey in spring and sail towards the bright shared future of China-Malaysia community!

Ouyang Yujing

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China to Malaysia

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