MAK­ING GREAT STRIDES

CHINA’S Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, in his meet­ing with Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak, de­scribed ties with Malaysia as be­ing at the high­est level ever. Na­jib, who is in Bei­jing for the land­mark Belt and Road Fo­rum, also said they dis­cussed ma­jor joint-v

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BEI­JING

PRIME Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak, here to join 27 other world lead­ers for the two-day Belt and Road Fo­rum for In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion (BRF), met China’s top lead­ers yes­ter­day.

He had meet­ings with Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang at the Great Hall of the Peo­ple ahead of the fo­rum, to be opened to­day.

Na­jib, at a press con­fer­ence, said Xi thanked Malaysia for sup­port­ing its One Belt, One Road (OBOR), or Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive (BRI), and de­scribed bi­lat­eral ties with Malaysia as be­ing at the high­est level ever in his­tory.

“We were among the first coun­tries to sup­port the ini­tia­tive.”

He said since his of­fi­cial visit to China in Novem­ber last year, all the de­ci­sions un­der­taken had been acted upon pos­i­tively.”

“Among them is the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), which is pro­gress­ing smoothly,” he said, adding that phys­i­cal work would com­mence in July.

He said the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment ex­pressed in­ter­est in bid­ding for the 350km high-speed rail (HSR) project link­ing Kuala Lumpur to Sin­ga­pore.

Other dis­cus­sions cen­tred on is­sues of mu­tual in­ter­est, such as the China-Malaysia Qinzhou In­dus­trial Park, Me­laka Gate­way and In­dus­trial Park projects, Xi­a­men Univer­sity Malaysia Cam­pus and tourism.

Na­jib was ac­com­pa­nied by Se­cond In­ter­na­tional Trade and In­dus­try Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan, Agri­cul­ture and Agrobased In­dus­try Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Ah­mad Shabery Cheek, Min­is­ters in the Prime Min­is­ter’s Depart­ment Datuk Seri Ah­mad Rah­man Dahlan and Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, Trans­port Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, and the Prime Min­is­ter’s Spe­cial En­voy to China Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting.

Sev­eral mem­o­randa of un­der­stand­ing (MoUs) at gov­ern­mentto-gov­ern­ment level were signed dur­ing the meet­ing.

China has been Malaysia’s largest trad­ing part­ner since 2009. Ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial trade fig­ures, bi­lat­eral trade last year amounted to RM240.91 bil­lion, a 4.4 per cent in­crease from the pre­vi­ous year.

From Jan­uary to April, to­tal trade grew 20.3 per cent year-onyear to US$29.33 bil­lion, in Malaysia’s favour.

To­tal im­ports are val­ued at US$12.9 bil­lion, a 25 per cent in­crease, and to­tal ex­ports US$16.43 bil­lion, an in­crease of 16.9 per cent, com­pared with the cor­re­spond­ing pe­riod last year.

To­day, Na­jib will at­tend the BRF, the high­est-level di­a­logue since the vi­sion for OBOR was shared by Xi in 2013.

The ini­tia­tive aims to re­de­fine the global econ­omy by in­te­grat­ing the economies of Europe, Asia and Africa through an un­prece­dent­edly pow­er­ful net­work of trans­port and com­mu­ni­ca­tions in­fras­truc­ture. OBOR is China’s long-term vi­sion for greater con­nec­tiv­ity and co­op­er­a­tion among Asian economies.

Mean­while, Ka Chuan said a na­tional sec­re­tar­iat on BRI would be es­tab­lished in the In­ter­na­tional Trade and In­dus­try Min­istry to co­or­di­nate and mon­i­tor the im­ple­men­ta­tion of BRI projects in Malaysia.

“Un­der the MoU on BRI signed to­day, China com­mits in the next five years to im­port goods worth US$2 tril­lion, in­vest up to US$150 bil­lion, and of­fer 10,000 places for study and train­ing pro­grammes in China for all sig­na­to­ries.”

Shabery said the safety and phy­tosan­i­tary re­quire­ment pro­to­col signed by his min­istry would en­able fresh pineap­ples to pen­e­trate the Chi­nese mar­ket and boost ex­port vol­ume twofold to RM320 mil­lion by 2020.

He said this would also pave the way for the ex­port of other fresh fruits, such as durian, to China in fu­ture.

BER­NAMA PIC

Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak with his Chi­nese coun­ter­part, Li Ke­qiang, in Bei­jing yes­ter­day.

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