Prime Minister Najib’s visit to China can be regarded as fruitful and augurs well for both the nations. For the Prime Minister, it was quite a sentimental trip since it was his late father Tun Razak who took the bold decision of recognizing China 35 years ago. The Prime Minister brought along his mother, his wife and family on this occassion.
One cannot not to be impressed with the Chinese government every time I visit Beijing. My last visit to Beijing was in 2007 when I presented the paper on food safety and another paper on the integration of traditional medicine and western medicine. Beijing is a bustling city with a dusty atmosphere but it is definitely much cleaner on the streets of Beijing if compared to other big cities. Its landscape is beautiful and despite the space constraint, there are provisions for the pedestrian and the cyclists. Many visitors to China salute the Chinese government for its town planning, especially landscaping and being people’s friendly by promoting cycling and walking.
Over the last 35 years, because of the cordial relationship between China and Malaysia, trade has been registering double-digit growth. Last year, the value of trade between the two nations touches US$50 billion (figures given by China). China is Malaysia’s 4th largest trading partner and it is an important export market for our commodities. There is also a significant growth in the tourism market. More and more students from China are in Malaysia pursuing further education.
China is today regarded as the economic powerhouse of Asia. It is estimated by next year China will overtake Japan to become the world’s second largest economy. This is a remarkable achievement achieved over a short span of 25 years. Its economic development model will be studied by endless people in the hope that these achievements can be duplicated in other countries. Of course there are structural problem in China’s high speed economic growth.
In the next 10 years, what do Malaysia hope to benefit from our cordial relationship with China?
1) More joint-venture companies between China and Malaysia private sector. Presently, there are joint ventures but mostly initiated by GLC.
2) Hope to see a more diversified form of joint-venture development. We should move away from just undertaking property development. We hope to see more joint ventures related to railway, dam, hydroelectric power station and aluminum smelter plant of which China has world-renowned expertise. Hopefully through these joint ventures, there will be technology transfer from China to Malaysia.
3) In the field of agriculture, we should learn about China’s effort on modernization of agriculture and biotechnology. China today supplies almost half of the world’s fresh vegetables.
4) Tourism. This has great potential. Last year, we received more than 900, 000 Chinese tourists. In the same year, there are 40 million Chinese tourists. So, what Malaysia received is a very small insignificant numbers. To attract more tourists to Malaysia, we have to create more packages that involve several other countries, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos. These packages will make it more attractive to visit this part of the world. Chinese tourists like to eat, shop and a fair significant number gambles.
5) Education. The private institutions of higher learning have to play a more aggressive role in attracting Chinese students. There are 11, 000 Chinese students pursuing education at various levels. I understand that most of them are doing short courses. There is a need for the private sector to upgrade their standards of education. Otherwise, it will be a hard battle attracting quality foreign students. There have always been calls by Malaysia Chinese educationists that the government should recognize more universities from China. Since most Malaysian Chinese have no interest to work in the civil service, I feel that recognition or non-recognition of universities in China is not of importance.
I took the opportunity to travel to a few shopping centres and it is good to discover from the taxi driver that the security has improved tremendously in Beijing in the last 5 years. Hence, taxis in Beijing do not have iron grills that separates the driver from the passengers. This used to be the usual features in taxis operating in Beijing.
The weather is hot and dry. I do my usual morning walk from 6.30a.m. to 7.30a.m. I must admit, it was quite a pleasant walk despite the bustling traffic since there is a pedestrian walkway and beautiful landscaping.