As this year marks the 10th anniversary of the China-Malaysia comprehensive strategic partnership, and a year later, the two countries will mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's meeting in Beijing on Friday will undoubtedly open a new chapter in the history of the China-Malaysia relationship.
This is Anwar's first visit to China since he came into office in November 2022. He has attached great importance to developing Malaysia's relations with China. Shortly after his inauguration, he stated that, rather than maintaining the status quo, he would strengthen bilateral ties with China, particularly in the fields of economy, investment and culture.
During Friday's meeting, Xi urged the two sides to coordinate and promote development and cooperation in various fields to further enhance bilateral ties, injecting new momentum into the prosperity and growth of the two countries and the region.
Consensus reached in various fields
Both sides have vowed to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation based on mutual respect and trust, firmly support each other in safeguarding sovereignty and security, and in exploring the path of development in line with each other's national conditions.
Economic issues were also a major focus during the meeting. China has been Malaysia's top trading partner for 14 consecutive years, with bilateral trade reaching $203.6 billion in 2022.
The two sides agreed to vigorously advance high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, cultivate growth points for cooperation in the digital economy, green development, new energy and other areas, so as to bring more tangible benefits for the two countries and their people.
As China and Malaysia both belong to Asian civilizations and are both beneficiaries, contributors and defenders of economic globalization and multilateralism, Xi noted, the two sides should deepen exchanges and mutual understanding between Chinese and Islamic civilizations, adhere to genuine multilateralism, uphold international fairness and justice, and make greater contributions to improve global governance.
Anwar expressed his willingness to strengthen inter-civilization exchanges with the Chinese side and noted that freedom of religious belief for Muslims in China and their mosques are well protected.
Firm support of ASEAN centrality
Over the past 30 years, China has always firmly supported the building of the ASEAN community, its centrality in the region, and the greater role it plays in regional and international affairs.
Among ASEAN's dialogue partners, China was the first to establish a strategic partnership with ASEAN, and in 1991, China and ASEAN formally opened a dialogue process. China-ASEAN relations have been leading regional cooperation in East Asia and have become a model of cooperation in the Asia-Pacific.
Malaysia, as one of the founding members of ASEAN, has been committed to promoting greater regional dialogue and cooperation through ASEAN.
During the meeting, both Xi and Anwar reiterated their staunch support for the centrality of the organization in the region.
Xi said that China adheres to the original spirit of East Asian cooperation, supports ASEAN's centrality, and will resolutely resist the Cold War mentality and camp confrontation.
For his part, Anwar said Malaysia also opposes camp confrontation and the forcing of other countries to take sides. And ASEAN, as an independent and autonomous organization, will play an active role in avoiding the escalation of tensions in the region, he noted.
(Cover: Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in Beijing, China, March 31, 2023. /Xinhua)