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Keynote address by Dato' Ramlan Bin Ibrahim, Deputy Secretary General of Bilateral Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Malaysia on Symposium in Commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Rrelations Between China and Malaysia

His Excellency Dr. Huang Huikang (pronounce hwang hui-kang), Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Malaysia

Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri Dato' Seri Ong Ka Ting, the Malaysian Prime Minister's Special Envoy to China

Yang Berbahagia Dato’ Abdul Majid Khan, President, Malaysia-China Friendship Association (PPMC)

Yang Berbahagia Datuk Dr Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria, Secretary General, Ministry of International Trade and Industry

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Assalamu’alaikum, a very Good Morning and Salam 1 Malaysia.

First and foremost, allow me to express my utmost and sincere appreciation to the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China for inviting me to share my thoughts on a very important milestone in our relations as we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between Malaysia and the People’s Republic of China, which to my mind have gained so much strength over the years and evolved into a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in all sectors of our thriving bilateral cooperation.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I believe the best way to capture our enduring relations is to quote a traditional Malay proverb 'Flowing water cannot be severed', and this was a quote which the Chinese President Xi Jinping had also aptly used to attribute the state of relations which our two countries have attained based on our common desire in fostering a flourishing relation. According to President Xi, our two countries have proven to be good neighbours, good friends and good partners who have gone through thick and thin together. It is a sentiment that we embrace wholeheartedly particularly in areas where our interests converge and our desire to prosper together speak volumes on the intensity of our bilateral activities.

Looking back, although our diplomatic relations have reached its 40th Anniversary, our engagement and ties have been much longer and lasted more than 600 years, dating back when the Sultanate of Malacca and the Ming Dynasty, in the 1400’s, opened the doors in establishing strong relations based on mutual respect and trust. It was an engagement that helped the Sultanate of Malacca to become an important port in the region and boosted Malacca its international character and reputation. The story of Princess Han Li Po and the Sultan of Malacca is a story of the bond of friendship between the people of China and the people of Malaysia. It is that bond that we continuously nurture which becomes the flowing water that cannot be severed.

It follows that six hundred years later in 1974 Malaysia’s second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak bin Hussein saw the need to renew our ties with China and made a wise and decisive step to become the first ASEAN leader to forge formal diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. His mission to Beijing was “a journey of goodwill and friendship to sow the seeds of mutual understanding between Malaysia and the People’s Republic of China. The signing of the Joint Communiqué, that opened a new Chapter in our relations led us to ink numerous bilateral agreements and MoUs that facilitated further our relations to move from strength to strength.

Decidedly, Tun Razak’s mission of goodwill and friendship to sow the seeds of mutual understanding had allowed us to reap bountiful harvest with two way trade reaching USD 100 billion last year, impressive investment and blossoming people to people contacts. Tun Razak’s vision was shared by subsequently leaders who too had continued with the mission of goodwill and friendship. Both the Malaysian and Chinese leadership have turned Tun Razak’s vision into reality given the strength of the bond of friendship between Malaysia and China at its best today. As a result of the firm commitment of our leaders, our two countries had developed and built mutual trust and confidence, deepened economic collaboration, provided understanding of our respective socio-politics, enabled acceptance of our differences and these had further boosted the two nations’ ties. Through our common endeavours we have generated cooperative opportunities and wealth creation for our betterment leading to better and stronger diplomatic ties and a soaring trade relations.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Therefore, it gladdens me that 2014 has been designated by both the governments of Malaysia and China as “Malaysia-China Year of Friendly exchanges” to commemorate the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations. The decision by both countries, without doubt, reflects the mutual satisfaction on how the bilateral relations have evolved into a healthy substantive cooperation in almost all sectors. It gives me great pride to note that as one of those who have followed closely the evolution of Malaysia-China relations over these years, I am very upbeat of a promising future between our two countries as we set bigger goals to accomplish and create much more opportunities for us to prosper together.

Indeed, the current snapshot of Malaysia-China Relations is one that is closely connected, multi-faceted and multi-thronged. The tradition of mutual trust in pursuit of opportunities and prosperity continues to be the hallmark of the relationship, one that both can mutually benefit from. It has also contributed to the harmony and stability in the region and the furtherance of its vibrant and dynamic socio-economic development.

The strength of Malaysia-China bilateral interactions is manifested by the strong 2-way trade. Ever since the establishment of diplomatic relations and following China's own breath-taking economic development, the Malaysian private sector, have made substantive investment in China and contributed to the Chinese economy. Similarly, a greater number of Chinese companies are also investing in Malaysia and I am confident more would follow in the coming years.

Given the excellent dynamics in our relations, China is now Malaysia's largest trading partner globally and Malaysia is China biggest trading partner among ASEAN countries. Malaysia is the third Asian country to have annual trade volume with China exceeding 100 billion U.S. dollars after Japan and South Korea. In a move to further boost trade and investment, China and Malaysia have set up two joint industrial parks in Qinzhou (pronounce Ching-jou), China and Kuantan, Malaysia, respectively.

The signing of the Five Year Programme for Economic and Trade Cooperation between Malaysia and China (2013-2017) on 4 October 2013 witnessed by Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib and President Xi Jinping (pronounce see jin-ping) has provided a clear direction and priorities of Malaysia-China trade and economic cooperation. The Programme maps out the economic and trade cooperation between Malaysia and China in the next five years and helps the business communities of Malaysia and China to identify opportunities for them to venture together or expand their businesses.

Therefore, in commemorating the 40th anniversary of Malaysia-China, we are not only taking stock of our relations during the past decades, but most importantly defining our relations in the future with greater certainly and clarity as we continuously build upon our strength and reaffirming our commitment. In our way forward, our bilateral relations have also profited from the able stewardship of Premier Li and the Honourable Prime Minister Najib whom are committed to see us sustaining the upward trend in relations. I believe that our relations would be further boosted during the forthcoming visit of the Honourable Prime Minister of Malaysia to China later this month, to commemorate the historic and important milestone between Malaysia and China and reaffirming the direction that we have set in the coming years.

Before concluding my speech, I would like to put on record the Government of Malaysia’s utmost gratitude to the Chinese Government for all its support and contribution following the MH370 incident. Malaysia will always appreciate the understanding and assistance provided by China in terms of assets deployed and its forthcoming manner in sharing information and expertise. As you are all aware, the search for MH370 still continues and Malaysia remains committed to continue the search for MH370 until it is found, in order to bring a closure for the families and friends of those on board of MH370. With the continuous help of our international partners, especially China and Australia, Malaysia is confident that the final resting place of MH370 will eventually be found.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Both Chinese and Malaysian leaders have often reminded us that friendship serves the fundamental interests of the two countries. Friendship and family ties transcends all barriers and issues, and next week hopefully Malaysians will delightfully welcome the arrival of a pair of giant pandas, named Fu Wa and Feng Yi. The giant pandas, considered as a national treasure for the people of China will be a testament and symbol of the long standing Sino-Malaysia friendship of more than 600 years ago when the world famous Admiral Cheng Ho and his armada landed on our shores. As we celebrate this historic occasion, let us work together to ensure that Malaysia and China will continue as partners for peace and prosperity as envisioned by the wisdom of our leaders. I am confident that our relations are poised to enter into a new era of cooperative and mutually beneficial endeavours that would make our next forty years even more memorable, God willing. I thank you.

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