BEIJING – Deepening of Kuala Lumpur-Beijing relations, enhanced by the third official visit of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, has not only boosted trade relations between the two countries but also made inroads into the new economy.
His six-day visit did not only see a historic achievement with the signing of 14 agreements worth RM144 billion, but also managed to get China Internet tycoon and Alibaba founder Jack Ma, to become digital economy advisor to the Malaysian government to spearhead the country’s e-commerce development.
Najib said it would help open new fields for the Malaysian economy.
The prime minister also met Wanda Group and Tencent Holdings owners, who also expressed their interest to participate in the development of Malaysia’s digital economy.
Wanda is China’s largest commercial property company and the world’s largest cinema chain operator, while Tencent is a leading provider of Internet value-added services in China.
Najib visited, among others, the Gu’an New Industry City, an innovation-driven industry city, developed by China Fortune Land Development Co Ltd (CFLD), showcasing future industrial development that is holistic, creative, innovative and dynamic.
One that is of interest to Najib in particular is the latest technology developed by its Global Technology Centre in collaboration with Tsinghua University, Peking University and Zhongguancun Science and Technology Park.
The industry city is focusing on five industry clusters ― aerospace, biomedical, high-end equipment manufacturing, e-commerce and modern services industry.
His visit this time also broke new ground, with the landmark decision by the Malaysian government to buy four littoral mission ships (LMS) from China, with two to be built in China and the other two in Malaysia.
The allocation for the purchase is off-Budget with the funding coming from the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) through savings acquired from the 15-5 Transformation Programme.
Malaysia-China defence cooperation took off with bilateral military exercise about two years ago, followed by a joint live-troop exercise last year.
Malaysia-China relations, built up since 1974, has grown from strength to strength with China last year investing US$2 billion (RM8.4 billion) in Malaysia, and the figure is expected to increase based on the uptrend in investments over the past five years.
China was Malaysia’s largest trading partner in 2015, a position maintained since 2009.
Total bilateral trade in 2015 was US$100 billion.
To further enhance this relationship, Malaysia Airlines will be flying to eight new destinations in China and introduce 11 new routes beginning January 2017, while the AirAsia Group has become the biggest international foreign airline operating in China, offering 313 flights a week between both countries.
Both China and Malaysia, in a joint statement following Najib’s visit agreed that regular exchange of visits between the leaders of both countries had elevated Kuala Lumpur-Beijing relations to greater heights.
Next year, President Xi Jinping will be making a state visit to Malaysia on the invitation of Najib. Xi’s first official visit to Malaysia was in 2013.
This high-level visit will further enhance the already cordial relations between the two countries.