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Malaysian leader Anwar says China is a 'true friend' and nothing to fear as PM Li ends visit

Malaysian leader Anwar says China is a 'true friend' and nothing to fear as PM Li ends visit
Malaysian leader Anwar says China is a 'true friend' and nothing to fear as PM Li ends visit


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim on Thursday rejected the notion that Chinese domination was to be feared, calling China a true friend at the end of Premier Li Qiang's visit to mark 50 years of diplomatic ties between their countries.

While the leaders raised some contentious bilateral issues, Anwar said they discussed them on equal terms, as trusted friends. He did not give details but was likely referring to the thorny issue of overlapping territorial claims in the country. South China Sea.

People say that Malaysia is a growing economy. Don't let China abuse its privileges and extort from the country. I said no. On the contrary, we want to benefit from each other, we want to learn from each other and we want to enjoy this engagement, Anwar told some 200 business leaders at a luncheon attended by Li.

His words will be welcomed by Chinese leaders, who find themselves increasingly at odds with countries in the The Philippines in Japan as it grows as a regional power in Asia. During his visit, Li held up what he called the friendship between China and Malaysia as a positive example for country-to-country relations in the region.

Anwar said he rebuked the incessant propaganda that we should criticize and fear China's economic, military and technological dominance.

We dont do. In Malaysia, we have a neutral position and are committed to working with all countries and China, he said. We regard Premier Li Qiang as a friend who would work with us.

Li, who is China's second leader after President Xi Jinping, was the first Chinese prime minister to visit Malaysia since 2015. He flew in on Tuesday for a three-day visit, the final leg of a tour regional. Li was also the first Chinese prime minister to visit New Zealand and then Australia in seven years.

The two leaders agreed on Wednesday that China and other Southeast Asian claimant countries should resolve the South China Sea dispute independently and appropriately through dialogue and cooperation, as well as bilateral settlement.

No details were given, but the statement comes amid concerns the dispute could escalate tensions between the United States and China. 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 disputed shoal 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 publicly, even though Chinese coast guard vessels have sailed near Malaysian waters. This is partly aimed at protecting economic ties, with China being Malaysia's largest trading partner since 2009. Bilateral trade jumped to $98.8 billion last year, accounting for 17% of Malaysia's global trade.

At the lunch, Li urged businesses to expand cooperation in emerging areas such as green development, digital economy and artificial intelligence.

The journey of China and Malaysia over the past 50 years… is like an expedition where two people join hands and cross mountains and rivers and achieve a milestone full of achievements. It also marks the official start of a hopeful next journey, Li said.

Li received a red carpet farewell ceremony and a guard of honor as he returned home later Thursday.

The two countries renewed a five-year commercial and economic cooperation agreement Wednesday and signed a series of cooperation agreements in various sectors.

The Commerce Ministry said on Thursday that 11 more memorandums had been signed between Malaysian and Chinese entities, which could generate a potential investment of 13.2 billion ringgit ($2.8 billion). These included proposals for collaboration in high value-added sectors such as oil and gas, energy, education, agriculture, automobile and utilities, he said in a statement.

A joint statement from the two governments said on Thursday that China would extend the visa waiver for Malaysian tourists until the end of 2025, while Malaysia would reciprocate with a longer period until the end of 2026.

The two countries will also jointly inscribe the lion dance, a cultural dance performed during the Lunar New Year and festivals, as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage. About a quarter of Malaysia's 33 million people are of Chinese origin.




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