Malaysia-China Relations

Reflections On
Four Decades Of Malaysia-China
Enhanced Friendship And Partnership

The year 2014 has been designated by both the governments of Malaysia and China as “Friendship Year” to commemorate the 40th. Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations. The decision, indeed, reflect the mutual satisfaction that bilateral relations have evolved into a healthy growth with substantive cooperation in almost all sectors to merit a celebration to mark the milestone. For those of us who have closely followed the evolution of Malaysia-China Relations over these decades, cannot but agree that relations have indeed blossomed beyond expectation. A solid diplomatic foundation has been established between the two countries, opening wider and deeper opportunities to further build upon the achievements of the last 40 years.

Almost 40 years ago, Malaysia’s second Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak, broke the ice of the Cold War and set foot in Beijing for a mission which he described as “a journey of goodwill and friendship to sow the seeds of mutual understanding between Malaysia and China”. Looking back now, Tun Razak’s vision has become a reality as the bond of friendship and partnership between Malaysia and China is at its best today. This success has not come by accident. It has been a direct result of the long standing commitment of successive leadership both in Malaysia and China fostering and nourishing the relations into a much stronger and more broadly based over the years. The building of mutual trust and confidence, coupled with deepening economic collaboration further boosted the two nations’ ties. As economic relations deepened and further reforms unlocked, creating further cooperative opportunities, diplomatic ties strengthened and bilateral trades soared.

Currently, Malaysia-China Relations can be characterized as one that is closely connected, with solid diplomatic foundation and strong economic relations. The tradition of mutual trust in pursuit of shared opportunities and prosperity continues to be the hallmark of the relationship. Both countries have mutually benefitted from the partnership. It has also contributed to the harmony and stability in the region and further its dynamic economic development. The strength of Malaysia-China bilateral interactions is manifested by the strong 2-way trade which in 2011, was valued at USD90 billion. China has become Malaysia’s largest export market. China’s investment in Malaysia had shown significant increase and it expected to be an important new source of investment for Malaysia. People-to-people links and interaction continue to flourished. There are some 14,000 Chinese students studying in Malaysia and a significant and growing numbers of Malaysians are studying in China. The two way tourists flow has reached three million annually, and Malaysia has become one of the popular tourists destination for Chinese holiday makers. Cultural exchanges have reached a new profile with the establishment of a Malay Research Center in Beijing and the setting up of two Confucius Institutes in Malaysia. Cooperation in new areas such as Finance, Telecommunication, Infrastructure Development, Science and Technology have yielded mutually beneficial results. It is evident that the seeds of friendship planted almost 40 years ago by Tun Razak have grown into healthy trees providing the present generation a good shade in the form of the existing strong Malaysia-China Friendship and Partnership.

The coming 40th. Anniversary of Malaysia-China Relation is also an opportunity for us to look into the future. It is clear that the new leadership of China as well as the Najib Administration are committed to further grow and deepened the bilateral ties in the coming decades. Chinese and Malaysian leaders have often reminded us that friendship serves the fundamental interests of the two countries and the two people and have benefited both people. It is only fitting that the 2 pandas that will arrive at Zoo Negara at the end of the year has been made the symbols of the long standing Sino-Malaysia friendship established more than 600 years ago during the voyages of Admiral Cheng Ho and reinvigorated by Tun Razak in May 1974. As we celebrate this historic occasion, let us all work to ensure that Malaysia and China will continue to remain partners for prosperity and peace.

Article contributed by:
■Dato’ Abdul Majid Ahmad Khan

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