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Towards 50 years of China-Malaysia friendship

Towards 50 years of China-Malaysia friendship

29 Dec 2023

THE busy and fulfilling year of 2023 is about to pass. Recalling the highlights destined to be recorded in the history of China-Malaysia relations this year, I feel inspired and hopeful for the future.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the China-Malaysia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, as well as the 10th anniversary of President

Xi Jinping’s proposal to build a community with a shared future for mankind, the Belt and Road Initiative, and, China’s principles of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness in neighbourhood diplomacy.

High-level exchanges

This year holds special significance for both China and Malaysia. This year, high-level exchanges remain frequent, writing a new chapter of political mutual trust.

In March, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim visited China and reached an important consensus with President Xi Jinping on building a China-Malaysia community with a shared future – drawing a blueprint for the development of bilateral relations in the new era.

In September, Datuk Seri Anwar went to China for the second time to attend the opening ceremony of the 20th China-Asean Expo, further promoting trade cooperation between the two countries and jointly building a more stable and resilient regional industrial chain and supply chain.

The top legislators of both countries, the National People’s Congress (NPC) of China’s Standing Committee chairman Zhao Leji, and Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Johari Abdul visited each other this year.

Vice President Han Zheng, Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi, State Councillor and Minister of Public Security Wang Xiaohong, and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee vice chairman Jiang Zuojun visited Malaysia, while Deputy Prime

Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof and several Malaysian cabinet ministers also visited China. With the impetus from high-level exchanges, interactions between China and Malaysia have been rapidly resumed across various levels, different departments and regions.

There have been successive visits of nearly 50 delegations from China at the vice-ministerial level or above that expand friendship and opportunities in Malaysia and promote solid progress in the China-Malaysia community of a shared future.

This year, pragmatic cooperation steadily advances, achieving “acceleration” of mutual benefit and win-win results.

China and Malaysia signed the First Protocol to amend the Agreement on Expanding and Deepening Economic and Trade Cooperation – laying the policy foundation for further cooperation.

Trading partners

China has been Malaysia’s largest trading partner for 14 consecutive years, and Malaysia is China’s second-largest trading partner in Asean.

According to China’s statistics, in the first 10 months of 2023, the total number of China-Malaysia bilateral trade reached US$155.73bil, accounting for 20.8% of China’s total trade with Asean during the same period.

In 2022, China’s investment in Malaysia reached US$12.5bil.

Each investment cooperation takes root and yields fruit, becoming a vivid reflection of mutual benefit and win-win situation between China and Malaysia.

Projects in Malaysia

This year, the Belt and Road cooperation moves forward steadily, drawing a “meticulous painting” of development cooperation.

The Kuantan Industrial Park celebrated its 10th anniversary.

With a total of 13 signed projects with a combined investment agreement exceeding RMB46bil, the cumulative industrial output value of the industrial park has reached RMB60bil – creating approximately 20,000 local job opportunities. This development has also driven an annual increase of over 15 million tons in throughput at the Kuantan Port.

The construction of Malaysia’s East Coast Railway Link (ECRL) is also in full swing. As of November, 56.35% of the construction of the ECRL has been completed.

Earlier this month, the ECRL held a launching ceremony for the track laying. The track laying will proceed at a speed of 1.5km per day, and the completion and operation will be around the corner.

By then, the ECRL will serve as a “land bridge” between the east and west coasts of Malaysia and facilitate the industrial chain and logistics between the two countries and even the entire region.

Constructed by China Gezhouba Group, the Baleh Hydroelectric Power Plant in Kapit, Sarawak, has entered the main project construction stage. Upon completion, it will provide sufficient hydro-power resources for the future development of Sarawak.

The double-track railway from Gemas to Johor Baru built by Chinese enterprises has been completed by 94% and is expected to be completed next year. It will greatly increase the flow of people and cargo, and boost the economic development of southern Peninsular Malaysia.

Emerging industry cooperation

This year, emerging industry cooperation is on the rise, becoming a “new engine” of the growth momentum.

As Malaysia launched policies such as Industry 4.0, New Industrial Master Plan 2030, and Digital Economy Blueprint, high-tech enterprises from China are increasing their investment in Malaysia and comprehensively promoting cooperation in the fields of digital economy, green development and new energy.

Geely plans to invest US$10bil to build a high-tech automotive valley in Malaysia, highly praised by Datuk Seri Anwar.

BYD, Chery, Great Wall and other EV car manufacturers are actively expanding into the Malaysian market, and China’s electric vehicles have gained reputation and sales. I believe many people have already seen them on the road.

Global Data Solution’s major data centre campus is now operating in Johor.

Telecom enterprises such as Huawei and ZTE have in-depth cooperation with local companies to provide Malaysian customers with better communication network services and help Malaysia become a digital economic hub in South-East Asia.

Positive energy

This year, people-to-people exchanges widely expanded, injecting “positive energy” into China-Malaysia relations.

The Islam-Confucianism Leadership Dialogue was successfully held with Datuk Seri Anwar in attendance.

The academic circles of the two countries strengthened the dialogue between Confucianism and Islam, setting an example for global civilisations to conduct exchanges, mutual learning, and development and progress.

Since Dec 1, China and Malaysia have implemented reciprocal visa-free policies, widely welcomed by people from all walks of life. Malaysia has become one of the most popular travel destinations for Chinese tourists, and Malaysian friends can go on a trip to China at any time.

We attach great significance to communication and cooperation in education. China Higher Education Fair and China-Malaysia Vocational Education Fair were successfully held and colleges from both countries showed great willingness to explore chances of cooperative education and teachers’ training programme.

The Embassy of China has been actively engaging with the Malaysian people. We hosted three rounds of Embassy Open Day and invited Malaysian youth to experience authentic Chinese culture.

During Ramadan, we carried on the common tradition of helping the needy and conducted nine charity activities to help the people in need to overcome difficulties.

This year, we work together in multilateral fields, playing the “symphony” of a shared future.

China and Malaysia belong to the family of Asian civilisations and are beneficiaries, contributors, and defenders of economic globalisation and multilateralism.

Both uphold true multilateralism and support each other in UNHRC, IMO and other international organisations – standing for international fairness and justice, safeguarding the common interests of the vast number of developing countries.

Since the outbreak of the latest round of Palestinian-Israeli conflict, China has all along devoted its efforts to realising peace and saving lives. China chaired the High-Level Meeting on the Palestinian-Israeli Issue in the UN Security Council, which is firmly supported by Islamic countries including Malaysia.

China has always stood on the side of peace and justice and the right side of history, speaking up for a ceasefire and reinforcing humanitarian assistance.

Time-honoured friendship

China and Malaysia enjoy a time-honoured friendship, which remains unchanged despite the change of times.

The year 2024 marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations, making the beginning of a new chapter in the bilateral relationship.

As Confucius said, “At 50, I knew the decrees of Heaven,” so it is necessary for us to learn from historical experience and promote the China-Malaysia community with a shared future going deeper and more substantial.

High-level political guidance is the foundation of the China-Malaysia friendship.

When President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Anwar were discussing governance concepts and human civilisation, I could feel that they found a kindred spirit in each other.

The idea of building a community with a shared future for mankind and the Global Development Initiative (GDI), Global Security Initiative (GSI) and Global Civilisation Initiative (GCI) proposed by President Xi Jinping were highly praised by PM Anwar on various occasions.

President Xi highly approves the Malaysia Madani concept raised by PM Anwar. The spiritual resonance of the leaders of the two countries injects a strong stimulus into the development of China-Malaysia relations.

We should take the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Malaysia as the main theme – to strengthen high-level exchanges, deepen political mutual trust, constantly enrich the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries, and elevate bilateral relations to a new level.

High-level practical cooperation is the guarantee of China-Malaysia friendship. When travelling along the ECRL construction sites, I felt the locals’ eagerness for the early operation of the ECRL.

When visiting Sarawak, Sabah and other states, I was impressed by the aspiration of local politicians and people to expand cooperation with China.

We should take the China-Malaysia community of a shared future as a guide, work together to implement the respective national development plans, advance high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, deepen practical cooperation in various fields, and achieve common prosperity.

The mutual understanding between the people is the source of China-Malaysia friendship.

Sincerity is the key to a lasting friendship.

The Embassy’s Facebook campaign “One Sentence to Describe China-Malaysia Relations” was well received by Malaysian friends from different ethnicities.

At the Embassy’s Open Day in June, an eight-year-old Malaysian child presented the embassy with a painting of a Chinese bridge at Taiping Lake, and I was touched by the child’s simple sketch and sincere feelings for China-Malaysia friendship.

We should take it as our mission to continue the cause of China-Malaysia friendship, deepen cultural exchanges, encourage mutual visits between young people, and expand academic exchanges and scientific research cooperation so that the fire of friendship can be passed from generation to generation.

Looking forward to next year, China will continue to strive for the new journey of building a modern socialist country in all aspects, and Malaysia will also achieve new development under the leadership of the unity government.

Standing at the new starting point, we should work hard and move forward with determination. With the harvest of this year, let us continue to play the theme of China-Malaysia friendship and jointly write a new chapter of a shared future!

Ouyang Yujing is Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to Malaysia.

Source: The Star