KUALA LUMPUR — China and Malaysia on Nov 23 pledged to cement their economic ties by promoting bilateral trade and investment amid a closer partnership.
The latest move came as Premier Li Keqiang wrapped up his official visit to the Southeast Asian nation, where he also attended the annual East Asia leaders’ meetings.
Addressing a bilateral high-level economic forum in Kuala Lumpur, Premier Li said that China would grant a 50 billion yuan ($8.2 billion) quota to Malaysia under the Renminbi-Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor program to facilitate bilateral trade and mutual investment.
China will buy Malaysian government bonds in line with the market rules, he said, calling for more joint efforts to stabilize financial markets and boost investment and trade cooperation to tackle global financial instability and other economic woes.
“A waterfront pavilion gets the moonlight first,” he said, quoting a Chinese saying. He pledged that China, close in distance and culture with Malaysia, will open wider its economy to the Southeast Asian country.
Bilateral trade stands at over $100 billion annually and mutual investment has been growing rapidly. Malaysia has been the largest trading partner of China among the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the past seven years, while China remains Malaysia’s biggest trading partner.
Meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Premier Li said that the two countries should deepen strategic communication and mutual political trust, dock their development strategies and advance production capacity cooperation.
He also said the two countries should enhance connectivity in the region by actively discussing construction of projects such as the high-speed railway linking Malaysia and Singapore, railways in southern Malaysia and the China-Malaysia port alliance.
Premier Li urged the two sides to strengthen cooperation in various areas including aviation, marine economy, science and technology, national defense, law enforcement, anti-terrorism and the fight against cross-border crimes.
The Premier, who also visited Malaysia’s Malacca State and interacted with local residents on Nov 22, said that Beijing and Kuala Lumpur should promote people-to-people exchanges and enhance cooperation in education and tourism.
Najib, for his part, said that Malaysia-China relations are at their best, adding that his country stands ready to start relevant railway projects at an early date and expand financial cooperation with China.
Malaysia, he said, welcomes more investment from Chinese enterprises and will promote cooperation and communication with China in areas including culture, education, tourism, anti-terrorism and national defense.
After their meeting, the two leaders witnessed the signing of a host of bilateral cooperation agreements in areas ranging from economy and trade to production capacity and ports.
In a joint declaration issued after the meeting, China and Malaysia vowed to further enhance bilateral trade, actively encourage two-way investment, promote the involvement of the private sector and support cooperation between small and medium-sized enterprises and service institutions.
Malaysia holds the rotating chair of ASEAN this year. China has pledged infrastructure loans totaling $10 billion to Southeast Asian countries during the ASEAN summits and also proposed railway and production capacity cooperation amid closer partnership with the economically converging region.