BEIJING, June 2 (Bernama) — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the China of today is vastly different from the one that his father saw in 1974.
“The millions of bicycles and Mao suits have been replaced with cars that travel on super highways. China is increasingly being courted by the developed West and not shunned as previously,” Najib wrote in an article published in the China Daily prior to his official visit to China beginning today.
The prime minister said 35 years after Zhou Enlai and his father, the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, established diplomatic relations in Beijing, “our friendship has strengthened.”
“As the Chinese proverb goes, ‘When people are true friends, even shared water tastes sweet’, and I have great hope for our future with one another. I am confident that our already strong relationship will strengthen and deepen, heralding a new era in bilateral relations with shared objectives in the spirit of ancient ties, current friendship and future partnership,” he said.
Najib described China and Malaysia as true economic success stories.
“Our future is filled with hope and opportunity. But the challenges we face are real, and there is much to do. Of course, it is still true that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
“And, in the pursuit of national economic and social development, some countries have further to go than others, and some will want to find their own path.
“Those nations with the ambition to emerge from this economic crisis stronger need to take urgent measures now. I believe that China and Malaysia are taking the necessary steps.”
China and Malaysia, he said, also shared an unprecedented challenge as the global economy was likely to shrink this year for the first time since the middle of the last century.
The World Bank has also predicted that world trade this year is likely to record its largest decline in 80 years.
Given this scenario, Najib said, Malaysia and China should confront this challenge head on.
“The power of trade and value of markets is undeniable, but the global economic crisis demonstrates that government, too, has a critical role to play.
“I applaud China’s quick and decisive implementation of its US$586 billion economic stimulus package, which is already paying off with positive changes taking place in the economy.
“In recent months, my government, too, has announced two historic, targeted stimulus packages. The second alone, at RM60 billion, is the biggest in Malaysia’s history and accounts for 9 per cent of our gross domestic product. According to Bank Negara Malaysia, the packages will boost economic growth by 1 to 1.5 per cent.
“If we are to promote stable economic development, these packages are just one measure. In the long term, we must create knowledge economies. Doing so, especially in this uncertain time, is key to achieving global competitiveness; to realising the latent talent of our people; and to ensuring that the benefits of economic growth are shared.”
Referring to bilateral relations between China and Malaysia, he said they had much in common in that they shared similar aspirations and objectives to ensure lasting peace and stability in the region.
China, he said, had also demonstrated that it was a responsible economic power when it won the appreciation and trust of Asian nations during the financial crisis in 1997-1998 by not depreciating its currency.
“If it had, it would have made the already difficult situation even worse for the affected nations, including Malaysia,” he stressed.
Najib said that today, both Malaysia and China could work together to deal with the global economic recession and there were several ways in which this could be done.
These include ensuring that domestic demand in both Malaysia and China remained high as an increase in Chinese domestic demand would help the export sectors of countries in the region and their recovery.
“Bilateral trade between Malaysia and China reached $39.06 billion in 2008 an increase of 10.3 per cent compared with 2007. Two-way trade was less than $100 million in 1974 when the late Tun Razak, Malaysia’s second prime minister, made the historic visit.
China is now Malaysia’s fourth largest trading partner and fourth largest export market. Most of Malaysia’s imports come from China. China is also a very important destination for Malaysian investments. Last year Malaysia was the 19th largest foreign investor in China.
“There are numerous opportunities for Chinese investors in Malaysia. We welcome them and encourage their participation in our success,” said Najib.
On his recently-announced two packages of economic reforms relating to the services and financial sectors, Najib said these measures would make foreign investment easier and more attractive, and Malaysia would like to see an increase in the number and profile of Chinese investments.
“Bilateral relations between Malaysia and China are further characterised by the good personal rapport between leaders and business communities alike, as well as with regular exchanges of visits at all levels,” he said.
He said people-to-people contacts had also grown and Malaysia was today a major destination for Chinese tourists.
Last year, more than 949,800 Chinese visitors came to Malaysia — the fifth largest number after Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Brunei and the largest from outside Asean.
“With direct flights and increased frequency, the number of Chinese tourists to Malaysia this year could well exceed one million,” he said, adding that China was also an important destination for Malaysian tourists.
Najib also opined that the future prosperity of any nation depended on the performance of its people.
“Education is our most important tool in breaking the cycle of poverty — and it is our surest route to long-term economic growth. That is why my government is forging a new economic model that puts knowledge first.
“Putting knowledge first also means tapping the diversity of our countries. In Malaysia it is our diversity that has been the source of our economic strength. Harnessing talent from every section of society provides a foundation not just for economic growth but also for political stability.”
Talking about 1Malaysia, Najib said people from all over Malaysia had joined him in supporting the concept, which was an effort to spread mutual acceptance and respect among genders, cultures, races, religions and nations.
Source : Bernama