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Strategic View

Published: 17 Jun 2009 00:16:32 PST

A SPECIAL GIFT: On June 3, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao presents visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak a photo featuring his late father Tun Abdul Razak, then Malaysian Prime Minister, signing the joint communiqué establishing diplomatic relations between China and Malaysia with Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai on May 31, 1974 (LI XUEREN)

China and Malaysia seem poised to advance their bilateral relations by building on achievements in the past 35 years, a prospect that Chinese leaders advocated with visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

Najib, who took office in April, visited China on June 2-5. It was his first foreign tour as Malaysian Prime Minister outside the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a group of 10 Southeast Asian countries of which Malaysia is a member.

At a meeting with Najib, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao raised a four-point proposal for upgrading the two countries' relationship: promoting trade diversification and maintaining trade growth; enhancing mutual investment and stepping up key projects; deepening financial cooperation and safeguarding financial stability; and strengthening coordination on regional affairs and further developing regional cooperation.

Malaysia was China's largest trading partner among ASEAN countries in 2008, with two-way trade amounting to $53.47 billion, according to China's Ministry of Commerce.

"This year marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Malaysia," Wen said. "China is ready to work with Malaysia to take this opportunity to actively implement the joint action plan on strategic cooperation and lift bilateral ties to a new level."

Malaysia, under then Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak, Najib's late father, established diplomatic relations with China on May 31, 1974, becoming the first ASEAN country to do so. The two countries signed the joint action plan on strategic cooperation on June 3, ushering in a new stage of strategic cooperation in their relations.
 
While meeting with Najib, Chinese President Hu Jintao said China and Malaysia have seen their relations develop smoothly over the past 35 years. They have had frequent high-level visits, enjoyed increasing political mutual trust and carried out fruitful cooperation in the fields of trade, energy, infrastructure and culture. They have also maintained close coordination on such issues as promoting East Asian regional cooperation and addressing the international financial crisis, he said.

With regard to the territorial disputes in the South China Sea, Wen told Najib that China and Malaysia should beef up dialogue and cooperation and properly handle relevant issues in a joint effort to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea.

The Declaration on the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea should be strictly observed, he said. The document, signed by China and ASEAN in 2002, is the first political document they have concluded on the South China Sea issue.

During his visit, Najib also met with Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang. Both vowed to create a bright future for China-Malaysia relations. He and Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu attended a business forum aimed at fostering strong ties between the two countries' business communities.

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