A New Era of Partnership: Premier Li Qiang’s Visit Fortifies Malaysia-China Ties

Photo courtesy of Anwar Ibrahim FB
By Tengku Noor Shamsiah Tengku Abdullah

KUALA LUMPUR, June 24: The recent visit of Chinese Premier Li Qiang to Malaysia marked a new era in the partnership of the two nations in the wake of the 50th anniversary of their diplomatic ties.

Dr. Oh Ei Sun, a prominent analyst, shared his perspectives with Weekly-Echo, shedding light on the significance of this visit for the future of Malaysia-China relations.

“The bilateral relation between Malaysia and China has been a very fruitful and win-win one, and could be a role model for how other countries should nurture their mutual ties,” Dr. Oh, who is a Senior Fellow, Singapore Institute of International Affairs remarked, emphasizing the exemplary nature of the partnership.

The agreements and Memoranda of Understanding signed during the visit are expected to deepen economic ties, particularly in the realms of the digital economy, green development, and tourism.

Nevertheless, Dr. Oh expressed cautious optimism about the potential economic outcomes, stating, “Frankly speaking, only time will tell, as we are still digesting the MOUs signed during Anwar’s visit to China.”

He said, the visit is anticipated to bolster China’s economic and geopolitical influence in Southeast Asia, presenting an opportunity for Western powers to engage more deeply with Malaysia.

Discussing the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project, Dr. Oh highlighted its significance for Malaysia’s development, “Again only time will tell if the Malaysian side would make good use of such advanced infrastructure to develop the regions along the rail line.”

With China being Malaysia’s largest trading partner for over a decade, Dr. Oh commented on the advancements in trade relations, “China is eager to show that it is in good terms with most Southeast Asian countries, while Malaysia is eager to court Chinese investments.”

On the topic of cultural exchange, Dr. Oh expressed hope for deepening ties, “I hope that tourism and educational exchanges could be deepened. Perhaps another China university branch campus here and a Malaysian university branch campus in China.”

On what would underline future collaborations, Dr. Oh succinctly stated, “We mainly need money and technology, and China needs friends.”

The visit has reinforced the bonds of cooperation and set a precedent for future collaboration, with the hope of ensuring that the next 50 years of diplomatic ties are as golden as the first.

It has certainly laid the groundwork for a future rich with high-tech, sustainable partnerships.

During his visit last week, Premier Li Qiang engaged with the business sectors of Malaysia and China, had a close door meeting with Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to discuss bilateral ties and pertinent regional and global topics. The leaders also oversaw the signing of 14 agreements across nine Malaysian ministries.

Li’s visit to Kuala Lumpur was marked by significant events that underscored the deep ties between Malaysia and China.

His audience with His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, King of Malaysia, and his presence at the groundbreaking ceremony of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) Gombak Integrated Terminal Station alongside Anwar Ibrahim, highlighted the collaborative spirit of the two nations.

ECRL, a testament to the robust Kuala Lumpur-Beijing relationship, is on track for completion in 2026.

This ambitious 665km rail project, stretching from Kota Baru to Port Klang, will feature 20 stations dedicated to passenger and freight transport, promising to revolutionize connectivity and economic growth in the region.

Celebrating a milestone, the 50th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Malaysia and China was commemorated with a dinner in Kuala Lumpur.

The exchange of specially curated coffee table books between the leaders—Li’s “50th Anniversary of China-Malaysia Diplomatic Ties Hand in Hand for Win-Win Cooperation” and Anwar’s “The Ties that Bind”—symbolized the shared history and future aspirations of both countries.