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A Relation that Started Early and is Getting Stronger -- On the 40th Anniversary of China-Malaysia Diplomatic Relations

2014-03-10 14:25:00   By:中国东盟传媒网    Hits:


Malaysia is well known to the Chinese people. Ever since the 1990s when the package tour to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand prevailed among the Chinese, Malaysia has been praised as a “retreat away from the world” for its tempting sceneries. In Malaysia, the Chinese occupy about 30% of the country’s total population. They can keep their Chinese names on their ID cards. Also, Chinese is widely used for road names, road signs, advertising boards and trade marks in Malaysia, where Fujian dialect, Chaozhou dialect, Cantonese, Hakka dialect and Mandarin are commonly used language varieties. When travelling in Malaysia, many visitors claim that they hardly feel far away from home.

Though far-away from China across the sea, Malaysia has much in common with China since the ancient times. In recent years, the two countries have displayed vigorous vitality in state-level friendly relations, people-to-people exchanges, as well as cooperation in economy and trade, culture and education. The year 2014 marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of China-Malaysia diplomatic relations. At this particular moment, it is of great importance to look back to the China- Malaysia relations which started early and is getting stronger.

A Relation that Started Early and is Getting Stronger

In the 15th Century, great changes occurred in both China and Malaysia. In 1403, the Malacca Sultanate established its capital in Malacca and ushered in a new era in Malaysian history. In 1405, a Chinese expedition led by Zheng He went to Southeast Asia, opening an important chapter of China’s foreign relations.

In 1409, the ships led by Zheng He cleaved through the waves and reached the Malacca Port by drawing the power of the strong northeast monsoon. They brought with them the friendship, culture and silk of China, and they were warmly welcomed by Sultan Parameswara. Since then, the China-Malaysia relations have entered the golden period. Among Zheng He’s seven voyages to Southeast Asia, he had stationed in Malacca for five times, and Sultan Parameswara had also paid frequent visits to China. It was in 1411 that Sultan Parameswara, together with his wife and over 540 retinues, paid their first visit, which was recorded as the largest ever visiting team of state leaders in history. Altogether, Sultan Parameswara and his envoys had paid 34 visits to China and the Ming Dynasty of China had also sent special envoys to the Malacca Sultanate for 11 times, breaking a record in history.

After the foundation of new China, China-Malaysia relations have stood the test of time and changes, and kept healthy and steady development with the joint efforts of both governments and people of both countries. During the Cold War period in the 1970s, diplomatic relations between countries were facing a “frozen period”. Under such a circumstance, China and Malaysia broke the ice and established diplomatic ties in 1974, which fully displayed the courage and foresight of both governments. Thus, Malaysia has become the first ASEAN country to establish relations with China, and the first country to promote ASEAN-China dialogue relation. This has played a very important role in China-ASEAN relations.

Time flies like an arrow. On October 4th, 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to Malaysia, which was called a “visit to extend the history”. When talking about the China- Malaysia relations, President Xi said that the friendship between the two countries is built on the history. During the visit, the leaders of both countries agreed to lift the bilateral relation to the comprehensive strategic partnership and raise the cooperation to a higher level. As Malaysian Prime Minister Najib remarked that the China-Malaysia relation started early and is now getting stronger. So, enhanced cooperation is crucial for not only China and Malaysia, but also ASEAN and the entire world. And the China dream is kind of linked to the prospect of Asia.

The More the Visits, the Closer the Relations

In 2009 when Najib assumed the post as Malaysian Prime Minister, he chose to visit China in June that year, which was his first visit outside ASEAN. And it was on this visit that the two prime ministers signed an important document -- Joint Action Plan on China-Malaysia Strategic Cooperation, which opened up a new era for China-Malaysia strategic cooperation. During the visit, Najib also received a special gift -- a historic photo of China’s former Premier Zhou Enlai and Tun Abdul Razak, Najib’s father and late Prime Minister of Malaysia, which was taken when the Joint Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between China and Malaysia was signed in China’s Great Hall of the People on May 31st, 1974. When this precious gift was given to Najib, the whole family was so excited and hugged each other. In their hearts, this old photo not only records the history, but carries the future.

Badawi, former Malaysian Prime Minister, also expressed his profound understanding on the growing China- Malaysia relations. He has attended various meetings in which he discussed with several Chinese state leaders on multi-field development of the two countries. He said in the interview that he was very proud of the China- Malaysia relations. Despite the ever- changing complex international situation, there is no need to worry about the bilateral relations. And the most he touched upon was the cooperation and promising future between China and Malaysia, as well as his willingness and eagerness to contribute to China- Malaysia friendship.

On President Xi’s visit to Malaysia at the end of 2013, he met then Supreme Head of State Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah who had witnessed the historic event when China and Malaysia established the diplomatic relations in 1974. This “old friend of Chinese people” held a grand welcome ceremony for President Xi, which was attended by Malaysian cabinet ministers and foreign envoys in Malaysia. Najib and his wife also hosted a family feast to welcome their Chinese friend President Xi. During the feast, President Xi said that kith and kin become closer with more visits, and Malaysia makes him feel at home. The youngest son of Najib is now studying Chinese, and Najib is thinking of sending him to study in Beijing to pass on the tradition of China- Malaysia friendship.

Trade as a Means of Expression

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loog has ever said, trade is not purely trade, but a means of expression, which shows who your friends are and who your potential long-term cooperative partners are. Over the past 40 years since China and Malaysia established diplomatic ties, bilateral trade has reflected the close relations of the two sides with a powerful means of expression.

In 2012, China-Malaysia trade volume topped $94.8 billion, accounting for 1/4 of the whole trade volume between China and the 10 ASEAN countries. China has been the largest trade partner of Malaysia for 4 consecutive years while Malaysia the largest trade partner of China for 5 consecutive years. In 2013, China-Malaysia trade volume reached $106 billion, and Malaysia became the third Asian country following Japan and Korea to achieve such an amount.

In the context of the leaping development of China-Malaysia economic and trade cooperation, China and Malaysia inked a five-year program for economic and trade cooperation during President Xi’s visit to Malaysia at the end of 2013. The program has lifted China-Malaysia cooperation from traditional fields like economy and trade, finance, infrastructure, energy and manufacturing to emerging fields such as aerospace and maritime cooperation. This has brought about more opportunities for numerous enterprises from both countries. And it is believed that with the joint efforts of high-level officials, China and Malaysia will develop more smoothly in the future.

Nowadays, Malaysia has become the first choice for Chinese enterprises to invest overseas. More and more Chinese people and enterprises have come to this beautiful and fertile land. At the same time, more Malaysian enterprises and businessmen have come to China. They are extending the friendly relations of China and Malaysia. With the passing of time, the bilateral cooperation is going beyond economic and trade cooperation and developing towards a higher-level and wider-field cooperation in tourism, education, high- tech, energy and so on.

On the new starting point of the 40th anniversary of China-ASEAN diplomatic relations, what should be done to better promote the cooperation between the two countries? In 2014, China and Malaysia once again stand at the cross road of development. We expect to witness another glorious period for China-Malaysia cooperation which started early and is getting stronger.

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