Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak on Monday ended a successful five-day working visit in China which included attending the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) for International Cooperation with 29 other heads of states and high-level officials from over 100 countries.
He also attended several bilateral meetings with China President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang in Beijing and witnessed the signing of nine Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Malaysian and Chinese companies involving infrastructure development worth about RM30 billion.
It was Najib Razak’s ninth visit to China since 2009, in which during those visits, the Prime Minister has fostered strong strategic ties with the country, economically and geo-politically. President Xi commented that the diplomatic ties between China and Malaysia are now at a “historic high”, enabling smoother and easier economic cooperation between the countries than ever before.
Key successes achieved during the visit were:-
- The signing of nine MoUs between Malaysian and Chinese companies with a total investment estimated at US$7.22 billion (about RM31.24 billion).
- Several major economic development projects to be implemented in Malaysia, amongst them the Robotic Future City in Johor Baru (investment worth over RM15bil)
- A joint-venture factory producing methanol and derivatives between Sarawak Bumiputera Property Foundation, Consortium of Huanhqiu Contracting and Engineering Co. and Macfeam Sdn Bhd (RM2bil).
- A cooperation agreement to develop The Shore in Sabah worth US$132.58mil (RM572.96mil).
- License granted to AirAsia, the first low-cost carrier outside China to operate in the republic (investment worth RM432.16mil)
- The financing of the construction of the East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) by the Exim Bank of China.
- Increased palm oil exports to China with the signing of the MoU between Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd and Sinograin Oils Corp.
- The development of the Digital Free Trade Zone with the signing of the MoU between Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation, Hangzhou Municipal Government and Alibaba (China) Company Limited.
With Najib’s previous official visit to China last November which resulted in the signing of agreements worth about RM150 billion, and China committing to RM8.7 trillion worth of imports from Malaysia over the next five years, the increase in foreign investments and joint venture development projects in Malaysia will create more higher-income and highly-skilled job opportunities for Malaysians in the immediate future, aside from offering 10,000 places for training and higher studies in China to Malaysians, it will enable Malaysia to become a high-income nation by 2020.
CONTINUED CRITICISM OVER MALAYSIA-CHINA TIES
Malaysia’s growing economic and diplomatic ties with China has received endless criticism from the Opposition front and anti-government NGOs. Wild accusations are thrown at Najib Razak and the Government of ‘selling’ Malaysia to China in order to restore the current economic uncertainty facing the country.
Western foreign media is also quick to pick up and cover these wild allegations, framing Malaysia as a country that is ‘desperate’ and is going against the status quo, pivoting to China instead to Western powers.
However, regardless of the gutter propaganda used by the Opposition parties to smear Najib’s and the Government’s image, Malaysian businesses are optimistic on the outcome of the Malaysia-China ties. The close relationship between the two countries has made it easier for Malaysian businessmen to foster economic cooperation than ever before with China and possibly with other OBOR partner countries, especially amongst our ethnic Chinese businessmen.
The Malaysian Government is also adopting a prudent and balanced attitude to the whole Malaysia-China cooperation, putting the needs of Malaysians and Malaysia first and safeguarding our National interests in all of the MoUs and agreements penned between the two countries. The Government and its officials are not as “gullible” and “blind” as what the Opposition accuse them to be.
Rather than blindly fabricating fake news and gutter propaganda, the Opposition parties should work together in a constructive manner and think of ways to further enhance the “win-win” strategic cooperation for the greater good of the country.
OPPORTUNITY NOT TO BE MISSED
The ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative is a Chinese economic and strategic initiative that will link the two ends of Eurasia, as well as Africa and Oceania over land and sea routes. It will enable coordinated economic, geo-politic, social and cultural cooperation and exchange between the countries along the proposed OBOR routes, promising positive economic growth and development in the region.
The Malaysian Government is wise to seize the opportunity to join the OBOR initiative during the early stages of the initiative. This forward thinking and insightfulness has led to billions worth of MoUs and projects that will surely benefit Malaysia in the long run and enable us to achieve a high-income nation status.