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Pursuing Harmonious Development Together and Safeguard the Multilateral Trade Order
——Remarks by Minister Counselor Chen Chen at the “China-Malaysia Relations” Seminar
2019/06/18

Good morning! It's my great pleasure to be invited to the seminar today. 

As a Chinese proverb goes, review the past and you shall know the future. I believe it is timely and meaningful for the Kong Zi Institute, Institute of China Studies of University of Malaya and Institute of Malaysia Studies of Xiamen University to jointly host such a seminar on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of China-Malaysia diplomatic relations. This is just the chance for us to review the past and look into the future. I look forward to the valuable thoughts from all of you attending this seminar and deep insights on the future of China-Malaysia relations. 

As one of the co-hosts of today's event, the Kong Zi Institute is named after the ancient Chinese sage Confucius. One of his most important propositions is to revere the Peace and Harmony, "和为贵".

The notion of "He" runs deep in the veins of Chinese civilization and can be seen from the internal and foreign policies of China. I still remember that at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, one item on the program is to display "Chinese Characters". Among the thousands of Chinese characters, we chose only one to show to the whole world at that historical moment. That character was He, Peace and harmony.

The Chinese people values highly the culture of "He". We have notions such as peace as the most precious, harmony in diversity and coexistence of all countries in harmony. The Chinese believe in peace. There's not a single bone of making external expansionism in the body of the Chinese.

The notion of He also works when China handles relations with other countries. We believe that peace and harmony among countries can only be achieved through equality, mutual understanding, and mutually beneficial cooperation while respecting the differences. This is exactly why China pursues good relations with neighboring countries based on the principles of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness and why China proposes the Belt and Road Initiative based on the principles of Consultation, Contribution and Shared Benefits.

The notion of He also can be seen throughout the history of China-Malaysia exchanges, especially the 45-year-long diplomatic relations. Both profoundly influenced by the culture of harmony, China and Malaysia regard each other as good neighbor and good friends all along, despite of our differences in social system and national condition. Though our two countries may have disagreements or disputes, we can always settle them in a friendly way.  No matter how the world changes, how China or Malaysia changes, the friendship between our two countries remain uninterrupted. The 45 years old China-Malaysia relations, based on respect, equality and harmony, remains unshakable and will become even firmer as time goes by.

Last May, we witnessed a historical change of government in Malaysia, followed by some ups and downs in China-Malaysia cooperation. People were once uncertain about the prospect of China-Malaysia relations. But now more than one year has passed, instead of sinking into the mire, the friendship and cooperation between China and Malaysia has rocketed through the roof. Prime Minister Tun Mahathir visited China twice in less than a year after his assumption of office. After his participation in the 2nd BRF, he spoke highly the BRI and has high expectations on China-Malaysia bilateral cooperation. 

During Dr. Tun Mahathir's visit to China last April, projects like ECRL and Bandar Malaysia have been back on track. Days before, five Malaysian companies have been approved by Chinese customs to export whole-fruit Durian to China. And later today, we will have a launch ceremony in Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industries of Malaysia, to celebrate the shipping of first batch of China-bound durians. Good news like these have greatly boosted our confidence in China-Malaysia cooperation. They also herald the beginning of deeper, richer and higher China-Malaysia relations.

This positive momentum in bilateral relations, ultimately after all, stems from the fact that the friendship and cooperation between China and Malaysia meets the common aspiration of the two peoples and indeed brings benefits to them. People of the two countries are all happy to see China-Malaysia relations to grow, so that they can harvest more fruits from the cooperation, and thus living a better life. This hope is simple and plain, yet also most universal.

In the time of globalization, not only China and Malaysia, but also Asian countries and even the whole world, are all pursuing peace, development, cooperation and prosperity. Unfortunately, some developed countries can see nothing but their own interests. In the total disregard of multilateral trade rules, they fight against the trend of our time, frequently wielding unilateralism and protectionism as means of intimidation.

Ever since the last year, the United States unilaterally ignited and escalated the trade conflict with China, causing concerns from the international community, including Malaysia. I would like to reiterate that China was pulled into the trade war, with its back to the wall. China does not want a trade war, but it is not afraid of one and it will fight one if necessary. It is a white war, a war to safeguard our legitimate right of development, and a war to safeguard the international rules and the multilateral trade system.

The Chinese side will always hold the goodwill to reach a deal with the U.S. side, but we will never accept any unreasonable request infringing our justified interest and right to development. China has every confidence to overcome any external challenges and ensure a steady domestic economic development.

Malaysia is a pro-trade country with a highly globalized economy. A fair, open and transparent international trade system is crucial to Malaysia's development and prosperity. China and Malaysia share common language on free trade. In short term, Asian countries like Malaysia may become the beneficiaries of production relocation or import substitute caused by the trade war. However in the long run, all Asian economies work as a part of the global value chain. Any break in the chain will cause systematic damage to all of us.Wise leaders like Dr. Tun Mahathir has expressed their worries, comparing the trade war to the scenario where "two giants fight, and the grass get stomped". Dialogue and cooperation is the only way out. Here I wish to assure you that the gate of dialogue from the Chinese side is still open, and we expect the U.S. side to return to the negotiation table to work out a win-win deal. But no matter where the chip falls, China will stay true to its path and remain committed to the reform and opening up. China is ready to join hands with Malaysia and more other countries, to overcome the hardship, safeguard the multilateral trade system, and create a better future through win-win cooperation. 

Once again, I would like to wish the seminar a great success. Thank you!

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