BEIJING, June 2 (Bernama) — It all started with a handshake in 1974 and since then both Malaysia and China have had a firm grip on their bilateral relations as they grow from strength to strength.
For Malaysia’s ambassador to China, Datuk Syed Norulzaman Syed Kamarulzaman, both countries “started out shaking hands and we will continue shaking hands.”
“Although the past 35 years have been good, more can be done between both countries to uplift the relationship,” he said.
Syed Norulzaman believes that Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s first official visit to China as prime minister will further cement the friendship laid down by his father, the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein.
The country’s second prime minister was among the few leaders at that time who were visionary enough to warm up to China during the era of the Cold War of the 1960s and 1970s.
As a result of Tun Razak’s far-sightedness, Malaysia went against the grain and became the first Asean country to establish diplomatic ties with China.
This has certainly brought immense benefits over the years in terms of improving trade and facilitating people-to-people contact.
“Our trade with China reached US$54 billion last year and we achieved this much earlier than the target of US$50 billion by 2010 that we have set. We are ahead of schedule and this is a pretty good sign,” said Syed Norulazman.
Tourism was another area of promise as some 989,000 Chinese tourists visited Malaysia last year and this was more than the 689,000 in 2007, he added. On the other hand, about one million Malaysians visited China last year.
“Air connections are on the increase for both countries and we are now connected to 12 cities,” said Syed Norulazman.
As for investments, he said, Malaysia was looking for more Chinese investments and Malaysia’s special economic corridors and infrastructure development projects could be a top draw.
In the field of education, Malaysia had remained as one of the top education centres for Chinese students for quality education, he added.
“I see a good future and a lot more that we can do and we are showing that we want to do it and are committed to doing it,” he said.
On Najib’s visit, Syed Norulazman felt that it was “very meaningful” as it more or less coincided with Tun Abdul Razak’s historic visit 35 years ago.
Najib will lead a 35-member delegation, including six ministers and four Members of Parliament, for a four-day official visit beginning Tuesday.
After the official welcome at the Great Hall of the People on Wednesday, Najib will hold a bilateral meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.
Both leaders will also witness the signing of three agreements to be announced later at the Great Hall of the People’s West Hall where a joint communique was signed by Tun Abdul Razak and then Chinese Premier, the late Zhou Enlai, in 1974.
Premier Wen will also host a welcome banquet for Najib at the Great Hall of the People’s Fujian Hall.
On Thursday, Najib will call on Chinese President Hu Jintao at the Great Hall of the People after attending the Malaysia-China Business Forum at the China World Hotel.
More than a dozen MoUs covering various sectors are expected to be signed at the forum.
There will also be a gala dinner, jointly organised by the Malaysia China Business Council (MCBC) and China People’s Association for Friendship with Friendly Countries (CPAFFC), to celebrate the 35th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
Before leaving for home on Friday, Najib will attend the launch of a 1.2 billion yuan (about RM600 million) joint-venture plant between Malaysia’s UMW Holdings and China National Petroleum Corporation in Qinhuangdao to produce gas pipes for China’s giant West-East Gas Pipeline project.
Source : Bernama