BEIJING, April 26 (Bernama) — Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has described Malaysia as a “good brother and close neighbour” and that bilateral relations between China and Malaysia would have a bright future.
He also said the same of Indonesia in a special interview with Bernama, The Star and three Indonesian media representatives ahead of his official visit to Malaysia and Indonesia beginning Wednesday.
Wen said he believed that Malaysia and China would enjoy a bright future in their bilateral relations due to the historical links and mutual trust that existed between the two countries.
When it comes to Malaysia-China relations, he recalled two important historical episodes — Malaysia was the first ASEAN country to establish diplomatic ties with China and the role that Malaysia played in building the ASEAN-China Dialogue relations.
“We’ve never forgotten these historical episodes between our two countries,” Wen said at Ziguangge,Zhongnanhai where Chinese leaders often meet their foreign guests. The venue that was chosen for the interview also reflected the great importance that Wen placed on the special relationship that China has with its two ASEAN neighbours.
On efforts to strengthen Malaysia-China relations in the years ahead, Wen said it must be based on mutual trust.
“You asked about the future of Malaysia-China relations and I agree with you that mutual trust comes first and it is foremost in developing state-to-state relations.
“The Chinese have a saying, when developing a relationship, it is essential that we increase mutual communication so that we can have mutual trust, and it is essential that we tell people what is truly on our mind,” he said.
Wen also commented on what Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had said during his official visit to China in June 2009 in that the future success of bilateral ties between Malaysia and China must be based on trust.
The Chinese leader said China and Malaysia needed to enhance their cooperation in important areas like business, science and technology, and education.
“Malaysia has become China’s biggest trading partner in ASEAN. According to China’s statisics, our two-way trade reached US$74.2 billion last year.
“What we need to do now is to sustain the momentum and have a balanced, coordinated and sustainable growth of our trade, and at the same time, increase the science and technology content in our trade,” he said.
Wen said that he found that there had been much coverage in Malaysian newspapers recently about the signing of mutual recognition of academic degrees during his forthcoming visit to Malaysia.
“Why are those newspapers paying so much attention to this? I believe that it is because exchanges between us in education and in science and technology represent the future of our bilateral relationship. Particularly the exchanges between the young people because it is the young people who will carry the historical mission of enhancing the friendship and cooperation between our two countries.”
He said China would also enhance mutual investment with Malaysia, including in key projects that were of special interest to Malaysia like the Second Penang Bridge, Sarawak paper mill as well as cooperation in other infrastucture development projects.
“One of the biggest steps in terms of progress that we have made recently in enhancing such cooperation is to strengthen the financial support for our cooperation. During my visit to Malaysia, the Chinese side will put forward specific proposals for better mutual reinforcement of financial and business cooperation between us.
“I believe that we will open a new page in cooperation between Malaysia and China,” he added.
Wen also took the opportunity to talk about territorial claims in the South China Sea and disputes between China and some ASEAN countries.
“Although both China and Malaysia have some disputes over the relevant islands and reefs in the South China Sea, the disputes have not impeded our efforts to have peaceful coexistence between us,” he stressed.
Wen said China was of the view that the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea signed between China and ASEAN in 2002 be adhered to as the declaration took the position that territorial disputes and disputes over maritime rights and interests in the region should be peacefully addressed.
“We disapprove of referring bilateral disputes to multilateral forums because it will only make the disputes bigger and more complicated,” he emphasised.
Wen said he believed that inspite of some territorial disputes and disputes over maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea, the countries concerned should and can have joint development in the South China Sea for the sake of all parties.
He pledged that China would enhance cooperation with the other countries to protect maritime security in the South China Sea as well in the Straits of Malacca.
Regarding China-ASEAN relations, Wen said both sides had moved from a dialogue relationship to a good neighbour relationship, and then on to strategic cooperation all within 20 years, and were now enjoying all round cooperation.
He said although ASEAN members were at different stages of development, both China and ASEAN could benefit from the cooperation on the basis of mutual respect and win-win results.
“We have to work together in terms of the FTA (Free Trade Agreement), financial cooperation, infrastructure connectivity, and many other areas,” he said.
Wen hoped that China-ASEAN cooperation would continue to move along a healthy track and in the right direction.
He pointed out that China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CFTA) would bring benefits to both sides and that the relevant countries should make full use of the favourable conditions, especially the preferential policies of the FTA.
In developing the CFTA, he said it should make timely adjustments and improvements to the arrangement in line with circumstances.
“We need to accommodate the interests of small and medium sized enterprises and we need to work together to ensure the FTA will continue to benefit all sides.”
Commenting on the recent involvement of the United States and Russia in the East Asia Summit that somewhat changed the East Asian cooperation structure, Wen said that the summit should always allow ASEAN to play the lead role.
“East Asian cooperation should contribute towards progress in the ASEAN integration process and to the development of all East Asian countries.
“We need to respect the diversity of East Asia cooperation and new dynamics in the regional cooperation mechanism structure that actually reflect the diversity of East Asian cooperation. We should ensure that our coooperation will remain open and inclusive,” he said.
Wen said the summit also should stick to its original aim as a leaders’ forum where all parties should work together to promote stability and peace, and enhance cooperation in developing East Asia.
East Asia, he said, needed to further consolidate and enhance development and existing cooperation mechanisms to benefit the East Asian people.
Source : Bernama