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New Malaysian durians to arrive in China under trade deals signed during PM Li's visit

New Malaysian durians to arrive in China under trade deals signed during PM Li's visit
New Malaysian durians to arrive in China under trade deals signed during PM Li's visit


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia New Malaysian durians will soon arrive in China as the two countries signed a series of trade and economic agreements on Wednesday during Premier Li Qiang's visit to celebrate half a century of diplomatic ties.

Li held private talks with Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in the government administrative capital of Putrajaya before meeting their delegations. The two leaders witnessed the signing of various pacts, including a new five-year economic and trade cooperation agreement that officials said would strengthen ties between industries in priority sectors such as high-end manufacturing and Digital Economy.

They also signed a protocol on measures that will allow Malaysia to export fresh durian, a strong-smelling, thorny tropical fruit known for its creamy pulp, to China, Anwars' office said.

Exporting fresh durians to China will open a new market for Malaysia, which started selling durian pulp and paste to China in 2011 and whole frozen durian fruits in 2018. The value of exports of frozen durian from Malaysia to China increased from 170 million ringgit ($36 million) in 2018. to nearly 1.2 billion ringgit ($255 million) last year, he said. he indicates.

Li, the first Chinese prime minister to visit Malaysia since 2015, arrived in Australia on Tuesday evening for a three-day visit. Li, who was given a Red carpet welcome, said upon his arrival that the 50th anniversary of the two nations was a new starting point to deepen ties and increase exchanges.

China is ready to work with Malaysia, Li said in a statement carried by state news agency Bernama.

Li, China's second leader after President Xi Jinping, also last week became the first Chinese prime minister to visit. New Zealand and then Australia in seven years.

While trade dominated the negotiations, the thorny issue of territorial claims in the South China Sea was also raised.

The two leaders agreed that China and Southeast Asian claimant countries should resolve the maritime dispute independently and appropriately through dialogue and cooperation, as well as bilateral settlement, the news agency reported Chinese Xinhua.

No details were given, but the statement comes amid fears the maritime dispute could escalate and plunge the United States and China into wider conflict following a new confrontation this week between Manila and Beijing. The United States renewed a warning Tuesday that it is obligated to defend the treaty-allied Philippines after Chinese forces seize two Philippine boats delivering food and supplies to a military outpost in a contested area and injuring several members of the Philippine Navy.

Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan all dispute Beijing's claims to almost the entire South China Sea. The Malaysian government prefers the diplomatic route and rarely criticizes Beijing, even though Chinese coast guard vessels have sailed close to Malaysian waters. This is partly intended to protect economic ties between trading partners.

Other agreements signed aim to promote investments in the digital economy and green development, to fight transnational crime and to stimulate housing and urban development, higher education, exchanges between people in the areas of science and technology, tourism and cultural cooperation, Anwars' office said.

Trade with China, Malaysia's top trading partner since 2009, accounted for 17% of Malaysia's global trade, valued at $98.8 billion last year, Trade Minister Zafrul Aziz was quoted as saying by Bernama last week.

Anwar, who visited China twice last year, has sought to move closer to Beijing while making the United States a key ally. Speaking at a forum in Tokyo in May, Anwar stressed that Beijing was too close, too important and too strategic to ignore.

Ahead of Li's visit, Anwar told Chinese media that Malaysia was considering joining the BRICS bloc of developing economies, but did not give details. The plan was confirmed by Malaysian officials on Monday. The bloc's main members are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which seek a fairer world order currently dominated by Western nations. The bloc has expanded with Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates invited to become members this year. Around forty countries have also expressed interest.

Joining BRICS does not mean that Malaysia will lose its strategic ambiguity between Beijing and Washington. It just means an extra platform to give it a bigger voice as a middle power, said James Chin, a professor of Asian studies at Australia's University of Tasmania.

Li also had an audience with King Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar. He and Anwar then broke ground on the construction of a terminal station for the East Coast Rail Link, which connects Malaysia's west coast with rural eastern states and is a key part of China's rail infrastructure initiative. Belt and Road.

Li said at the ceremony that the railway was the largest transportation infrastructure project undertaken by a Chinese company overseas. Once the line is completed, he said China is willing to work with Malaysia to develop projects along the railway line to further boost trade, logistics and tourism. Li said the rail line could also connect to Thailand and then to southern China.

The project was suspended in 2018 after Malaysia's ruling coalition was toppled in a historic general election following a massive corruption scandal. It was later relaunched after the Chinese contractor agreed to cut the construction cost by a third and is now expected to be completed by the end of 2026.

The two leaders will also attend a dinner to celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations. The two leaders will also meet the business community over lunch before Li returns home on Thursday.

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