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Saturday, 5 October 2013

Malaysia and China set trade target of RM511bil, usher new era of strategic partnership

Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak jointly meet the press in Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia, Oct. 4, 2013. (Xinhua/Zhang Duo)

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia and China have set an astounding bilateral trade target of US$160bil (RM511bil) by 2017.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and President Xi Jinping discussed this at a closed-door meeting at the Prime Minister’s office here yesterday.

The two leaders also discussed a five-year economic and trade programme and agreed to elevate the current cooperation between both countries into a comprehensive strategic partnership.

Najib and Xi said this in a joint statement issued after the meeting.

Last year, the bilateral trade volume between the two countries reached US$94.8bil (RM303bil).

This makes Malaysia China’s top trading partner among the Asean countries for the fifth consecutive year.

Najib said Xi expressed keen interest in seeing Chinese companies participate in Malaysia’s high-speed rail (HSR) project, the China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park and the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park.

“We also would like to see more trade between the countries settled in the renminbi and ringgit,” he said, adding that the information on this should be disseminated to the private sectors of both countries.

Najib said Xi indicated some new areas of cooperation between the two countries, which included information and communication technology, biotechnology, science and space technology.

“We agreed to step up our cooperation in law enforcement, combating transnational crime, cyber security, as well as stronger and deeper military cooperation,” he said.

Najib added that Malaysia would be opening a Consul-General office in Nanning while China would open similar offices in Kota Kinabalu and Penang.

“Malaysia also fully supports Xi’s suggestion, which he made in Indonesia, for the establishment of an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank which would certainly help in the development of Asean,” he said.

The Prime Minister hoped that the project to develop the Malaysian campus of the Xiamen University, its first outside China, would become a reality in near future.

Najib added that he was also looking forward to visit China next year, at the invitation of the Chinese government and Xi, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Malaysia-China diplomatic ties.

Earlier in the morning, Najib and Xi and their spouses attended a welcoming ceremony at Dataran Parlimen in the presence of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Sultanah Hajah Haminah Hamidun.

Sources: The Star/Asia News Network

 Xi's visit ushers in new era in China-Malaysia ties

Chinese President Xi Jinping left Kuala Lumpur Saturday after concluding his first state visit to Malaysia, which helps usher in a new era in China-Malaysia relations.

During his stay in Malaysia, Xi met Supreme Head of State Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah and Prime Minister Najib Razak, and attended a China-Malaysia economic summit. He also witnessed the signing of a series of cooperation agreements.

Both sides agreed to upgrade bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership, and make efforts to expand annual bilateral trade to 160 billion US dollars by 2017. The first Chinese university outside China, Xiamen University Malaysia Campus, will also be set up in the Southeast Asian country.

The visit by President Xi marks another great leap forward of bilateral relationship between Malaysia and China.

"In fact, the achievements of the visit are well beyond my expectation. It's a miracle that so many achievements have been made within such a short period of time," said Tan Khai Hee, secretary general of Malaysia-China Friendship Association.

Upgrade of bilateral ties

During their talks on Friday, Xi and Najib agreed to upgrade bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

"China highly values its relationship with Malaysia, which is taking the lead in China's relations with ASEAN members," Xi said, urging the two sides to enhance strategic cooperation to make their relationship a fine example in the region.

ASEAN stands for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which consists of Malaysia and nine other Southeast Asian countries.

Xi said the upgrade to a comprehensive strategic partnership will draw a more "beautiful" blueprint for bilateral ties.

For his part, Najib said his country hopes to enhance the comprehensive strategic partnership with China.

"China is a trustworthy friend of Malaysia," he said. "Our bilateral relations enjoy vast prospects."

The single most significant achievement of Xi's visit is of course the upgrade of the bilateral relationship to comprehensive strategic partnership, which China only accords to its most valued neighbors and friends, said political analyst Oh Ei Sun, a former political secretary to Najib.

While the economic collaboration will continue to prosper in gigantic leaps, the comprehensive nature of the relationship will see more technological, cultural and educational exchanges, which are crucial for the ever closer relationship between the two countries, he said in an interview with Xinhua.

Win-win cooperation

China has been Malaysia's biggest trading partner for the last four years, while Malaysia has been China's largest in the 10-member ASEAN for five years in a row.

Two-way trade soared to a record high of 94.8 billion dollars last year, while trade in the first seven months of 2013 jumped 14.9 percent to 59.72 billion dollars.

The Qinzhou Industrial Park in China and the Kuantan Industrial Park in Malaysia, noted Xi, should be built as flagship projects of investment cooperation between the two countries.

Beijing encourages Chinese enterprises to participate in the development of northern Malaysia and the high-speed railway construction linking Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, which will promote regional inter-connectivity, said Xi.

When addressing more than 1,000 business people and officials at the China-Malaysia Economic Summit on Friday, Xi proposed that the two countries boost bilateral trade and investment, deepen cooperation in the sectors of finance, agriculture and fishery, and jointly improve regional cooperation.

The Chinese president and the Malaysian prime minister witnessed the signing of the five-year program for economic and trade cooperation, which emphasizes the sharing of knowledge, technological resources and investment in the service of sustainable economic development and maps out mutually beneficial initiatives.

The two leaders have set an ambitious target that by the end of the fifth year of this program, bilateral trade between China and Malaysia will hit 160 billion dollars.

The program covers many areas of cooperation, including agriculture, energy and mineral resources, information and telecommunication, manufacturing, infrastructure, engineering, tourism, logistics and retailing.

Pheng Yin Huah, president of the Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia, said the program shows that China values its relations with Malaysia and President Xi wants more Chinese businessmen to invest in Malaysia.

"I believe that Malaysia and China will have more exchanges in politics, business and education," he added.

Regional cooperation

During his visit to Malaysia, Xi called for further cooperation between Asian countries.

Although Asia remains the most dynamic and promising region in the world, Asian countries still face the arduous tasks of developing economy and improving people's livelihood amid lingering impact of the international financial crisis, Xi said.

He called on Asian countries to focus on development, carry forward the all-in-the-same-boat spirit of unity and cooperation, and jointly safeguard the long-term stability and development in Asia.

"China supports ASEAN's leading status in East Asia cooperation, and is happy to see Malaysia play a bigger role in the region," Xi said.

Najib said Malaysia also stands ready to advance the development of ASEAN-China relations and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

"Whether on bilateral trade relations or international efforts to build a more sustainable global economy, we are strongest when we work together," Najib said.

In an interview with Xinhua prior to Xi's visit, the Malaysian leader said that as a founding member of ASEAN, Malaysia stands ready to contribute to stronger China-ASEAN ties.

"Not only is China a dialogue partner with ASEAN, but it's also an integral part of the East Asia summit," he said.

"Because of that, the relationship between China and ASEAN is very important and continues to grow particularly in terms of trade and China's involvement in major infrastructure projects in the whole region," he added.

While in Indonesia, the first leg of Xi's maiden Southeast Asia tour since he assumed presidency in March, Xi said China and ASEAN countries should work for win-win cooperation, stand together and assist each other, enhance mutual understanding and friendship to increase social support for bilateral ties, and stick to openness and inclusiveness.

Differences and disputes should be properly handled through equal-footed dialogue and friendly consultation for the overall interests of bilateral ties and regional stability, he said.

Xi arrived here Thursday and left the city Saturday for the 21st informal economic leaders' meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation to be held in Bali, Indonesia. -  Xinhua

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