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China, Malaysia launch joint industrial park

By Qin Jize in Kuala Lumpur and Cheng Guangjin in Beijing | China Daily | Updated: 2013-02-06 00:58

China and Malaysia launched a second joint industrial park on Tuesday, elevating economic ties to a new high.

Jia Qinglin, chairman of China's top advisory body, together with Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak, attended the ground-breaking ceremony.

Najib proposed the establishment of the park after the two countries decided to develop a similar estate last year in Qinzhou, a port city in South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

Analysts said the pattern of joint development of industrial parks in the two countries will deepen China-Malaysia cooperation and may become a model for China's cooperation with neighboring countries.

"Now the world is beginning to recognize that Chinese innovation and domestic demand will prove just as potent a force in the global economy. On economic cooperation and diplomatic cooperation, I am proud to say that Malaysia is ahead of the curve," said Najib while addressing the ceremony,

According to Najib, the park has already attracted investment commitments worth 10.5 billion ringgit ($3.4 billion), while creating 8,500 jobs.

Establishing twin industrial parks is an innovative pattern of cooperation between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations after their free trade agreement came into force in 2010, said Luo Yongkun, a researcher of Southeast Asian studies with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

"The parks will serve as a platform for the two countries to connect their advantageous industries, and expand cooperation from trade and investment to more sectors," Luo said.

"It's a very unique cooperation," said Datuk Iskandar Sarudin, the Malaysian ambassador to China.

"China and Malaysia might be the only two countries in the world to open industrial parks mutually with each other. Surely it is iconic," he said.

He said the idea of building industrial parks was brought up and actively responded to with high-level support from government leaders.

The Qinzhou industrial park is at the infrastructure-building stage. Now, along with the opening of Kuantan park, the twin parks can cooperate and complement each other and become new hubs that fuel China-ASEAN cooperation, said the ambassador.

The park comes at a time when the two countries see increasing confidence in each other, which is boosted by stronger bonds. China is Malaysia's largest export market and accounts for one sixth of Malaysia's imports. Najib said the two countries are expecting two-way trade to reach $100 billion in the next five years.

Later on Monday, Jia and Najib also witnessed the signing of an agreement to establish a campus of China's Xiamen University in Malaysia.

It was the first time a Chinese university has agreed to build a branch in a foreign country. Local newspapers saw the move as China's acknowledgement of Malaysia being an education hub.

Pu Zhendong contributed to this story.

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