“China firmly upholds China-Malaysia friendship and believes that China-Malaysia relations will have much to do in the new era,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said.
President Xi made the remarks when meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in Beijing on Monday, vowing to strengthen strategic communication.
Malaysia is the first country in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to establish diplomatic relations with China and also one of the first countries to positively respond to the Belt and Road Initiative, Xi noted.
“The two sides should make efforts in jointly building the Belt and Road and make it the main line to promote pragmatic cooperation between China and Malaysia in the new era,” Xi said and hailed Mahathir’s Asian values.
Xi also vowed to increase the voice of developing countries in the world and firmly oppose unilateralism and trade protectionism.
Mahathir responded that his visit shows clearly that Malaysia’s friendly policy toward China will not change and China’s rapid development is not a threat to Malaysia.
Malaysia welcomes Chinese enterprises to invest in Malaysia and Malaysia’s Look East policy will learn from the successful experience of China’s development, he added.
“China’s Belt and Road Initiative will promote regional exchanges and cooperation, which will benefit all countries in the region,” he noted.
The prime minister also stressed that Malaysia is willing to actively participate in the joint construction of Belt and Road.
Malaysia, part of the 10-member ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), established diplomatic relations with China in 1974.
China has been Malaysia’s largest trading partner for nine consecutive years since 2009. And in 2017, Malaysia was China’s ninth largest trading partner and the second largest among other ASEAN countries.
Malaysia hopes to build stronger ties with China and welcomes more investment and technological cooperation as a way to boost its SMEs, the prime minister told CGTN in an interview.
Mahathir also met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Monday. The two sides agreed to advocate for free trade and globalization as well as share common interests.
The memorandums of understanding between the two governments, covering cross-border accounting and audit regulatory cooperation, durian and palm oil trade and business, were signed during the meeting.
Mahathir has made seven visits to Beijing during his first term as PM from 1981 to 2003, and this visit is his first trip to China since taking office in May.
The prime minister is paying an official visit to China from Aug. 17 to 21. He visited the headquarters of automaker Geely and e-commerce giant Alibaba in east China’s Zhejiang Province as the first stop on his trip.