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40 years of Sino-Malaysian diplomatic relations

Updated: 2013-12-17 16:12
( Xinhua)

KUALA LUMPUR - "There's a Malay proverb says 'Flowing water cannot be severed' and there's no better term to describe the traditional friendly relations between China and Malaysia," said Chinese President Xi Jinping during his October visit to Malaysia.

Xi's visit ushered in a new era in Sino-Malaysian ties and serves as a significant milestone since the two countries established diplomatic relations nearly four decades ago. As China and Malaysia celebrating the 40th anniversary of formal ties in 2014, great opportunities await.

Long-standing friendship

"Our two countries have proven to be good neighbors, good friends and good partners who have gone through thick and thin together," Xi told an economic forum in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

He mentioned how both countries had worked together following the 1997 and 2008 financial crises, and the assistance extended by Malaysia to China in the aftermath of the devastating Wenchuan earthquake in 2008.

The traditional friendship dates back centuries ago, when the great Chinese navigator Zheng He arrived in Malacca Sultanate on the Malay Peninsula during China's Ming Dynasty, extending the hands of friendship to the people in a faraway land.

Six hundred years later in 1974, Malaysia, led by its second Prime Minister Abdul Razak bin Hussein, made a brave step by becoming the first member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to tie the knot with China, when its peers were held back by ideological differences.

"Prime Minister Razak was far-sighted in making the breakthrough," said Bong Hon Liong, president of Malaysia-China Chamber of Commerce, who witnessed the rapid development of bilateral relations during his business career in both countries for more than two decades.

Rich fruits

Ever since the establishment of diplomatic relations, especially after China's reforms and opening up, Malaysia companies, including those owned by overseas Chinese in the country, have been investing heavily and thus made great contributions to China's economy. On the other hand, more and more Chinese companies are looking for opportunities in Malaysia.

China is now Malaysia's largest trading partner globally, and Malaysia is China biggest trading partner among 10 ASEAN countries and set to become the third countries to have annual trade volume with China of 100 billion U.S. dollars in Asia by the end of 2013, after Japan and South Korea.

According to the latest statistics by China's General Administration of Customs, total trade volume between Malaysia and China recorded a 12.1 percent increase year-on-year to 85.85 billion U.S. dollars in the first ten months of 2013, nearly a quarter of the total trade between China and ASEAN.

In a move to further boot trade and investment, China and Malaysia have set up two joint industrial parks in Qinzhou, China and Kuantan, Malaysia, respectively.

China has also agreed to loan a pair of giant pandas, expected to arrive in early 2014 in conjunction with celebration of the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties, as symbols for the great friendship.

In fact, the bilateral relations are supported by the close rapport and frequent exchange between top leaders, as Xi said he and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak "feel like old friends at the first meeting."

When Najib visited China for the first time as Prime Minister in 2009, he was presented a gift by his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao  a photo picturing Prime Minister Razak, Najib's late father, signing the joint communique to establish diplomatic ties with China's then Premier Zhou Enlai.

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