China-Malaysia diplomatic relations – Sailing towards a brighter future

Tun Abdul Razak Hussein was the first Malaysian Prime Minister to open diplomatic ties with China and was given a grand welcome when he landed in Beijing in May,  1974. — Filepic/The Star

IN the early summer, with beautiful sunny days, the 47th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Malaysia is approaching. This is my first time celebrating the anniversary since my assumption of office as the Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia.

At this moment, my mind is filled with a myriad feelings, reflecting about my responsibilities and wishes. In the past few months, I have engaged extensively with Malaysian friends from government, Parliament, political parties, media, think tanks and local communities. I was deeply impressed by their passion and aspiration to promote China-Malaysia relations. The Malay proverb “Air dicincang tiada putus” vividly reflects the millennial friendship between China and Malaysia.

As we all know, the world, with its increasing instabilities and uncertainties, has yet to achieve full peace. The Covid-19 pandemic is ravaging the globe, traditional and non-traditional security threats are intertwined. Anachronistic practices of unilateralism and protectionism have been on the increase, driven by resurgent hegemonism and cold war mentality. Human development is confronted with multiple risks and challenges. Fortunately, China and Malaysia have always been supporting and helping each other, and pursuing mutual benefits, which has brought our cooperation to a higher level and yielded valuable and remarkable results.

Chinese President Xi Jinping attaches great importance to China-Malaysia relations and has met with Malaysian leaders many times over the past few years. During his visit to Malaysia in 2013, the relationship between China and Malaysia was elevated to a comprehensive strategic partnership. Several days ago, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Malaysian Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin held a video conference at which they reached consensus on a wide range of issues, such as vaccine procurement and R&D, e-commerce, digital economy, high technology, and agriculture and food security; they also had an in-depth exchange of views on international and regional issues of common concern.

Last month, Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had a fruitful talk with Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi during his visit to China. They signed a memorandum of understanding on China-Malaysia post-pandemic cooperation. These high level exchanges have played an irreplaceable and important role in the development of China-Malaysia relations.

In the process of combating the pandemic, China and Malaysia have provided assistance of medical supplies and shared pandemic mitigation experience with each other. China has considered Malaysia a priority in vaccine cooperation and has cooperated comprehensively with the Malaysian side on vaccine procurement, R&D and production.

In 2020, the bilateral trade volume and China’s investment in Malaysia’s manufacturing sector grew by 4.2% and 10.3% respectively, while Malaysia's exports to China witnessed a historical high. China has remained Malaysia’s largest trading partner for 12 consecutive years, and is the largest foreign direct investment source in Malaysia’s manufacturing sector for five consecutive years. Major projects such as “Two Countries, Twin Parks” and East Coast Rail Link are ongoing smoothly.

The mutually beneficial ties between both sides have become more resilient, pushing forward our cooperation against the odds.

The pandemic may separate us physically but it can never prevent us from connecting with each other. Despite the difficulties of face-to-face interactions under the new normal of pandemic prevention and control, we held a series of online events in a creative way including “2020 Malaysia-China Year of Culture and Tourism – Digital Silk Road”, and provided support to multiple virtual activities across various sectors and at all levels between both countries. The people-to-people exchanges have maintained their strong momentum, receiving enthusiastic responses from our people.

Only in hard times can courage and perseverance be manifested. Only after polishing can a piece of jade be finer. China-Malaysia relationship has demonstrated resilience and vitality through tough times. Our friends have shown their enthusiasm in supporting China-Malaysia friendship. These facts made us not only highly encouraged but also very confident and motivated to further promote China-Malaysia relations. In the post-pandemic era, I hope both sides can enhance cooperation in the following areas.

First, we should deepen anti-pandemic cooperation and promote solid progress in cooperation on healthcare, medicine, vaccine R&D and other areas to achieve an early victory against the virus and a rapid recovery of economy and society. I also hope we can resume offline communications across various sectors and through all levels at an early date to enhance people-to-people exchanges and promote mutual understanding between the two peoples.

Second, we should strengthen the synergies of our development strategies, promote high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, and steadily advance cooperation on major projects. We should nurture new growth areas for digital economic cooperation and tap into the potential of cooperation in areas such as 5G, big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, smart cities and cross-border e-commerce to foster new growth drivers.

Third, we should enhance communication and coordination on major international and regional issues, jointly safeguard multilateralism and free trade, promote world peace and stability, and play an active role in building a community with a shared future for humankind.

The wind is blowing and the sail is lifting. Let us work together to navigate the giant vessel of China-Malaysia friendship through the waves and forge ahead towards an ever brighter future.


Ambassador of China to Malaysia

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