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Sunday, October 30, 2016, 17:42

M’sia PM eyes ‘new heights’ in ties with China

By Xinhua
M’sia PM eyes ‘new heights’ in ties with China
Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) talks with Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (L) as they arrive for the official "family photo" at the annual 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila on Nov 19, 2015. (Saul Loeb / AFP)

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."

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

Najib Razak, Prime Minister, Malaysia

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua 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 the two countries 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 to Xinhua.

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.

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 US$100 billion 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.

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."

The Malaysian PM 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.

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