‘Diamond era’ for Malaysia-China ties, reciprocal visa policy in the works

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 28 — Malaysia and China’s relations are set to enter a “diamond era” after close ties in the past four decades, with the two countries also expected to discuss a reciprocal visa policy.

China’s ambassador to Malaysia, Dr Huang Huikang, noted that the two countries’ ties have quickly become more mature and stable over the past four years in various industries, while greater cultural exchanges, education and medical activities reached “historical highs”.

“Our bilateral ties have enjoyed a ‘golden era’ in the first 40 years. The next 40 years will see a ‘diamond era’,” he said in an interview published by local daily The Star.

He listed four milestones in the two countries’ ties, including China President Xi Jinping’s and Premier Li Keqiang’s 2013 and 2015 Malaysia visits, and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s seven trips to China.

China is also Malaysia’s biggest trading partner for the eighth year in a row, its largest foreign direct investment source and largest construction contractor, as well as the biggest source of non-Asean tourists with an expected three million arrivals this year, he said.

“This means Malaysia will get foreign exchange revenue of RM15 billion from Chinese tourists,” he said.

He also noted the flourishing cooperation in major projects such as industrial parks, the East Coast Rail Link, investments by e-commerce giant Alibaba and carmaker Geely, China’s Xiamen University opening its first offshore campus in Malaysia in 2016, and Malaysia’s signing of a pact last year to purchase coastal surveillance warships manufactured by China.

In a separate interview by The Star, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman noted that bilateral ties between China and Malaysia that were established in 1974 have grown substantially and prospered.

Anifah said the elevation of their ties from “Strategic Cooperation” to “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” in 2013 as part of Najib’s “visionary policies” signalled a new level of bilateral cooperation and engagement between the two countries.

“The increased diplomatic exchanges have resulted in a robust exchange of visits between both countries, including at the highest level. This is a trend that is expected to continue in the future.

“During the meeting between Prime Minister Najib and President Xi Jinping, in May 2017 in Beijing, both leaders agreed that Kuala Lumpur and Beijing should continue to communicate through all available channels and platforms, including the frequent exchange of visits, to discuss the issues of common concern,” he said in the interview published online by The Star.

He had noted that bilateral relations “should not be clouded by one single issue” in order to be strong, adding that Malaysia and China’s multifaceted ties with each other has ensured that the lines of communication and dialogue remain open.

Anifah said both Malaysia and China had in 2009 signed a Partial Visa Abolition (PVA) agreement to partially abolish the visa requirement for diplomats from both countries for visits of up to 30 days, which resulted in 64 such exchange of visits by those of minister and deputy minister level recorded last year.

Malaysia’s e-visa and eNTRI initiatives in 2015 also boosted tourist arrivals from China by 26.7 per cent to 2.1 million tourists in 2016, he said.

“Moving on, Malaysia is currently exploring the mechanism to expand the scope of PVA to include all passport holders.

“I have been informed that the Ministry of Home Affairs and its counterpart in China will be discussing on the conditions that are agreeable by both parties prior to implementing the reciprocal visa policy,” he said.

Source : Malay Mail Online

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