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Malaysian PM aims 'new heights' in bilateral relations for China visit

Xinhua | Updated: 2016-10-31 08:52
Malaysian PM aims 'new heights' in bilateral relations for China visit

File photo shows Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak addresses a news conference after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany September 27, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has stated his commitment to develop Malaysia's "strong and stable" relations with China, saying he intends to ensure that "it continuously improves and reaches new heights."

In an exclusive interview ahead of his official visit to China starting on Monday, Najib said he regards China "as a true friend and a strategic partner" and the relationship between Malaysia and China has "created benefits not just for the people of our two nations but also for regional stability and harmony."

"It is a relationship I am personally committed to; not just as the Prime Minister of Malaysia, but also as the son of Tun Razak -- our former Prime Minister who first established diplomatic relations with China 42 years ago," he said in written responses.

Reiterating that the relationship between the two "has entered a special phase," Najib said he could not agree more with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who compared China's relations with Malaysia "as being as close as lips are to teeth" and Premier Li Keqiang, who recognized Malaysia as a "good neighbor, good partner and a good friend."

Recalling the achievements in bilateral cooperation since 2013, when the bilateral relations was upgraded to "Comprehensive Strategic Partnership," Najib listed a series of major infrastructure projects in railways, real estate and energy, the opening of a campus by China's Xiamen University in Malaysia and an increasing number of Chinese tourists arriving in Malaysia, which he hoped could reach two million by the end of the year.

He highlighted "military cooperation," saying it has "hit new heights in recent years." Aside from the joint military training exercises in 2015 between Chinese and Malaysian armed forces, Najib revealed that that the two countries will be finalizing "the first significant defense deal" during his trip.

He also noted that "a number of new agreements and understandings in various fields ranging from economy and defense to education and innovation" will be signed during the visit.

Najib, who is about to embark on his third official visit to China since he assumed office in 2009, played down the impact of a sluggish global economy, saying trade relations between the two countries, having reached over 100 billion U.S. dollars in 2013, will continue to grow.

Aside from a number of opportunities to do business with China, including energy and infrastructure, Najib noted that Malaysia has "welcomed significant investment from China" in innovation and technology.

He said Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei's expanding presence in Malaysia symbolizes "the confidence that leading Chinese companies have in our economy."

Najib commended the China-proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, saying he believes "the bank can join the ranks of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank as a powerful platform to assist developing countries achieve greater growth and development."

Najib also welcomed the "Belt and Road" Initiative, saying there are "clear synergies" between the initiative and Malaysia's national transformation plan, which he put forward at the 2017 Budget speech earlier this month.

On issues of security challenges faced by Malaysia and China, Najib said both countries have agreed to further strengthen cooperation in the areas of law enforcement, security and defense, including friendly visits and security consultation in between respective law enforcement, security and defense agencies.

Najib said he is also committed to increase cooperation between the two sides in joint exercises and personnel training.

He noted that the "community of common destiny" idea, proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, reflects that China is intended to ensure a peaceful neighboring environment, which is crucial for the region's continued growth and stability.

During the trip, Najib will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and top legislator Zhang Dejiang, according to a spokesman from China's Foreign Ministry.

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