Se­nior For­eign Min­istry of­fi­cial is the new Chi­nese Am­bas­sador

The Star Malaysia - - Nation - By THO XIN YI thoxinyi@thes­tar.com.my

PE­TAL­ING JAYA: Bai Tian (pic), who is the Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry’s Asian Af­fairs De­part­ment deputy direc­tor-gen­eral, is ex­pected to be the new am­bas­sador to Malaysia.

He will be re­plac­ing Dr Huang Huikang, whose ten­ure ends this month af­ter serv­ing in Malaysia since Jan­uary 2014.

While there is no of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment from the Chi­nese Gov­ern­ment yet, Fed­er­a­tion of Chi­nese As­so­ci­a­tions Malaysia (Hua­zong) Tan Sri Pheng Yin Huah said Huang has told him that an ex­pe­ri­enced se­nior of­fi­cer would be named as his suc­ces­sor.

A high-rank­ing Malaysian diplo­mat, who has an ac­tive in­ter­est in Malaysia-China af­fairs, said the ap­point­ment of a se­nior for­eign min­istry of­fi­cer as the next en­voy showed that China recog­nised Malaysia as an im­por­tant part­ner.

“Nam­ing a can­di­date with a se­nior po­si­tion to be the am­bas­sador to Malaysia, it sig­nals that China wishes to fur­ther con­sol­i­date the bi­lat­eral ties be­tween the two coun­tries,” the se­nior diplo­mat, who de­clined to be named, said.

He added that Bai, as one of the four deputy direc­tor-gen­er­als of the de­part­ment, was well­known among South-East Asian diplo­mats.

The de­part­ment is in charge of, among other things, diplo­matic con­tacts as well as co­op­er­a­tion and ex­changes with the re­gion.

Bai was pre­vi­ously the po­lit­i­cal coun­sel­lor of the Chi­nese em­bassy in Manila, Philip­pines. Pheng said the Chi­nese com­mu­nity hoped Bai would con­tinue to en­gage the lo­cals on eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion and cul- tu­ral ex­change, like how Dr Huang had done.

“A Chi­nese en­voy plays an im­por­tant role as the bridge be­tween two coun­tries.

“He paves the way for Chi­nese in­vest­ment into the coun­try, which cre­ates job and busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties for the lo­cals.

“Like­wise, he can also help to fa­cil­i­tate Malaysian in­vest­ment in main­land China and as­sist us when we face prob­lems there.

“We are ex­pect­ing many eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties in the next few years with the devel­op­ment of the East Coast Rail Link, Malaysia-China Kuan­tan In­dus­trial Park and Me­laka Gate­way port,” Pheng said.

He added that Hua­zong would host a wel­come ban­quet for Bai when he ar­rives.

Bai will be the 15th China am­bas­sador to Malaysia since both coun­tries estab­lish diplo­matic ties in 1974.

China is Malaysia’s num­ber one trad­ing part­ner, while Malaysia has been China’s largest trad­ing part­ner in Asean since 2008 al­though Viet­nam took over the top spot last year.

Two-way trade be­tween Malaysia and China recorded a year-on-year in­crease of 18.9% from Jan­uary to Au­gust to reach 416.2bil yuan (RM266.9bil), ac­cord­ing to Chi­nese cus­toms data.

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