Bei­jing, Kuala Lumpur to de­velop pa­trol ships

China Daily (USA) - - 1 - By By QIN QIN JIZE JIZE and ZHANGand ZHANG ZHIHAO ZHIHAOin Bei­jing Con­tact the writ­ers at qin­jize@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China and Malaysia have agreed to jointly de­velop and build a lit­toral mis­sion ves­sel for the lat­ter’s naval forces, sig­ni­fy­ing deeper de­fense co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two Asian na­tions.

The deal, wit­nessed by Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang and his Malaysian coun­ter­part, Na­jib Razak, was signed on Tues­day in Bei­jing.

Ac­cord­ing to Na­jib, the first two of the lit­toral mis­sion ship­sMalaysia pur­chases from China would be built in China, with two then built in Malaysia. Fur­ther Malaysian-built ships would be sub­ject to govern­ment fi­nanc­ing. “This deal will en­hance theMalaysian ship­build­ing and de­fense in­dus­try,” he said in a writ­ten ar­ti­cle.

The ships are con­sid­ered fast pa­trol ves­sels pri­mar­ily used for coastal se­cu­rity, which can be equipped with a he­li­copter flight deck and mis­siles, Reuters re­ported.

Vice-For­eign Min­is­ter Liu Zhen­min­said the agree­ment would be con­ducive to the peace and sta­bil­ity of the South China Sea.

“Both China andMalaysia are coun­tries sur­round­ing the South China Sea, and the strength­en­ing of their naval co­op­er­a­tion will en­hance mu­tual trust,” he told re­porters.

It would mark Malaysia’s first sig­nif­i­cant de­fense deal with the coun­try, Reuters re­ported.

Jia Duqiang, as­so­ciate re­searcher at the In­sti­tute of Asia-Pa­cific Stud­ies of the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sci­ences, saidMalaysian pur­chases of LMVs from China will send a clear sig­nal across the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions. “Af­ter all, arms trade is al­ways a sen­si­tive is­sue, and it re­quires a strong, mu­tual po­lit­i­cal trust to ex­e­cute,” he said.

Mil­i­tary re­la­tions be­tween Bei­jing and Kuala Lumpur have grown re­cently, with the first joint mil­i­tary ex­er­cises held last year in the Strait ofMalacca.

The naval deal is just one of 28 agree­ments signed by the two coun­tries on Tues­day, cov­er­ing ar­eas like in­fra­struc­ture and fi­nance.

An­other ma­jor bi­lat­eral deal was that China would pro­vide loans toMalaysia for con­struc­tion of the planned East Coast Rail Line.

Malaysia’s trans­port min­is­ter was quoted in ear­lier re­ports as say­ing the loan amount is 55 bil­lion yuan ($8.1 bil­lion), the big­gest sin­gle deal Malaysia is to sign with China.

The strength­en­ing of their naval co­op­er­a­tion will en­hance mu­tual trust.” Liu Zhen­min, vice-for­eign min­is­ter

Chi­nese com­pa­nies also are in­vest­ing more in­Malaysia, said Jia. Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions gi­ant Huawei re­cently es­tab­lished a new re­search cen­ter in­Malaysia.

The week-long stay is Na­jib’s third of­fi­cial visit to China. Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang re­called the fre­quent ex­changes be­tween the lead­ers in the re­cent years. “I re­called the his­tor­i­cal con­tri­bu­tion your fa­ther made to im­prove bi­lat­eral ties,” Li said.

The late Tun Ab­dul Razak — Malaysia’s sec­ond prime min­is­ter and Na­jib’s fa­ther — was re­mem­bered for his vi­sion in 1974whenhe de­cided that Malaysia would be­come the first ASEAN coun­try to es­tab­lish diplo­matic ties with China.

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