DATUK Seri Najib Razak rounded out his visit to China with a personal hand in reinforcing commercial and economic ties between the two countries.
The high point of the prime minister’s four-day itinerary was his meeting with counterpart Wen Jiabao on Wednesday, following which the two governments signed the all-encompassing Joint Action Plan on Strategic Cooperation to bring sharper focus to ties after the sometimes ad hoc nature of their progress in the past.
“In my meetings with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen, many substantive matters were discussed which showed the Chinese leadership’s earnest intention to strengthen relations,” Najib said on Thursday.
The Action Plan provided “a framework or guideline for Malaysia-China relations that covers 13 primary areas” which would be left to the individual ministries to “interpret and operationalise”.
Najib moved to reassert the government’s support for accredited Chinese firms doing business in Malaysia, offering the plum of a commercial banking licence “with the condition that China reciprocates by considering wider participation by Malaysian interests in the financial or banking system”.
He said understandings on the Second Penang Bridge, entered into during the Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi administration, would be honoured, and the project’s contracts and loans would be signed soon.
A first progress payment of nearly RM300 million has been paid.
A longstanding claim on the Menkuang Dam in Penang had been resolved, with the award of the project to a Chinese-majority joint venture, he said.
Chinese participation in the Gemas to Johor Baru section of the railway double-tracking project, and in the Bakun Dam and its related facilities, including power transmission to the peninsula, was also discussed with Wen.
Najib met interested Chinese parties in a pulp and paper mill and aluminium smelter in Sarawak and said the government would take follow-up action.
“In return, the Chinese have said they are prepared to consider apportioning part of a US$10 billion infrastructure fund for Asean to Malaysia, as well as trade credits amounting to US$15 billion.”
On the Malaysian side of the ledger, the prime minister unveiled a Sime Darby-led multi-billion ringgit city development in Weifang, Shandong province.
“I met the party secretary and he has confirmed it and (Sime Darby chairman) Tun Musa Hitam has also briefed me on the project. It covers a huge area. It is not just a township but an iconic, landmark new regional development. This is going to be very exciting because many Malaysian companies can participate.”
Sime Darby’s investments in China already generate about RM3.8 billion in revenue and RM187 million in profits.
The two prime ministers took note of the success of the Petronas-Chinese National Petroleum Company partnership in Sudan, which now produces 400,000 barrels of oil a day, and offered it as a template for collaboration between Malaysian and Chinese companies in third countries.
Najib said recognition of Chinese universities was being considered to bolster education ties and draw more Chinese students to Malaysia.
Source : New Straits Times