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Interview of H.E. Ambassador Ouyang Yujing with Sinar Harian

(From Chinese Embassy in Malaysia)

2021-07-12 17:14


Q: All over the world, people are still battling an endless war against the COVID-19 pandemic, can you tell us how the current situation in China is right now?

A: China's economy has been off to a good start this year where its GDP grew by a record 18.3 per cent in the first quarter. Take the tourism industry as an example, which was severely affected by the pandemic, during the five-day Labor Day holiday, China saw a total of 230 million domestic trips with a tourism revenue of 113.23 billion yuan ($17.49 billion) recorded, exceeding the number before the pandemic, on a comparable basis.

However, China is not spared from the global pandemic situation. Imported COVID-19 cases have sparked local transmissions across several provinces in China. Fortunately, with a timely and effective response, the spread of the virus was controlled in a quick manner. For instance, Guangdong province swiftly launched large-scale nucleic acid testing after outbreak was detected with more than 53 million tests administered within more than ten days, whereas Guangzhou city (capital of Guangdong province) administered more than 18 million tests in just three days. The detection of infected cases in a timely manner, as well as decisive treatment and quarantine helped curb the spread of the virus. The pandemic situation in Guangdong is now under control.

This once again tells us that in the face of COVID-19, no country nor person can be great in isolation. China will continue to work together with other countries, putting in relentless effort until the final victory against COVID-19.

Q: How do you think the COVID-19 prevention and control measures executed here in Malaysia?

A: Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Malaysian government and people from all walks of life have been united together, taking measures to combat the pandemic, to recover the economy, and to protect people's livelihood, all of which have yielded positive results, and that deserves a round of applause. I hope and believe that through everyone's effort, Malaysia will be able to seize victory over the pandemic in a near future and return to normal life.

In the process of combating the pandemic, China and Malaysia have provided assistance of medical supplies, shared anti-pandemic experience with each other, and embarked on comprehensive cooperation in vaccine procurement, research & development, clinical trial and production. By the end of June 2021, a total of 16 million doses of Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine from China has arrived in Malaysia. My colleagues and I will keep up our effort in the China-Malaysia anti-pandemic cooperation to help Malaysia combat the pandemic.

Q: Malaysia and China recently celebrated the 47th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, how would you describe the bond between the two countries so far?

A: China and Malaysia are good neighbors, good brothers and good partners with millennial friendship. The tale of Admiral Zheng He's seven voyages, during which he visited Melaka five times, is widely known among the peoples of China and Malaysia, which shows the deep friendship between the two countries. After the establishment of the People's Republic of China, Malaysia took the lead to establish diplomatic relations with China, becoming one of the first ASEAN countries to do so, which has opened a new chapter in the friendly relations between the two countries.

For the past 47 years, through all the changes and the ups and downs in history, China-Malaysia relations have always progressed in a healthy and stable manner. The two countries enjoy profound mutual political trust, close beneficial cooperation, as well as deep understanding and affinity between two peoples. Our cooperation under Belt and Road Initiative has yielded rich fruits. Against the current complex international landscape, especially in combating this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, China and Malaysia supported each other through thick and thin, which has further promoted our traditional friendship, and demonstrated strong resilience and vigour of our bilateral cooperation. We are proud to say that China-Malaysia relations have stood the test of time and will continue to prosper. I look forward to the development of China-Malaysia friendly relations with full confidence.

Q: China-Malaysia are close counterparts when it comes to economic affairs, have there been any major setbacks faced by both countries due to this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? Will China develop more investment projects in the coming years?

A: Despite the impact of COVID-19 outbreak, the downward pressure on the global economy, the rise of trade protectionism and other unfavorable factors, China and Malaysia have worked hand in hand to achieve growth in economic and trade cooperation against the trend.

In 2020, the bilateral trade volume between China and Malaysia has once again surpassed the US$100 billion mark to hit a new high of US$131.16 billion, which is a year-on-year increase of 5.7%. China has remained Malaysia's largest trading partner for 12 consecutive years, and Malaysia is China's 9th largest trading partner. As of last year, China's investment in Malaysia has totaled US$17.26 billion, and China remains the largest foreign direct investment source in Malaysia's manufacturing sector for 5 consecutive years. Major projects including East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), "Two Countries, Twin Parks", and Gemas-Johor Baru Electrified Double-Tracking Project (EDTP) are undergoing smoothly. Areas of investment have become more diverse and comprise of industrial parks, infrastructure, equipment manufacturing, information and communications technology (ICT) and digital economy.

Chinese companies in Malaysia are playing an active role in Malaysia's economic and social development. Most of the Chinese manufacturing companies in Malaysia base production here while export products to overseas markets, without giving negative pressure to Malaysian companies of the same kind. They have created many job opportunities to local Malaysians and add to large amount of foreign reserve to Malaysia. Take Alliance Steel as an example. It has invested and built a steel plant in Pahang, with an employment of more than 2,000 local workers. It exports over 2.4 million tonnes of quality steel every year, adding an export value of US$1.3 billion to Malaysia, doubling the overall throughput of Kuantan Port and becoming an important growth engine for the local economy.

In the field of high technology, Chinese companies also take their advantages to integrate into Malaysia's national development strategy, especially in the digital economy. For instance, since Alibaba Group and Malaysian government launched the Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) in 2017, Alibaba Cloud, the digital technology and intelligence backbone of Alibaba Group, announced in June 2021 that it is to launch an Alibaba Cloud Innovation Center in Kuala Lumpur. This is the first international innovation center located outside of China, with which the company hopes to provide a conducive environment for startups, and nurture local talents, preparing them to embrace the digital future.

As an important hub of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, Malaysia enjoys a favorable geographical location and a sound business environment. It is an ideal destination for investment. I believe Chinese enterprises will continue to make great achievements here. In the post-pandemic era, China stands ready to deepen cooperation with Malaysia in economy, trade and investment, infrastructure construction, digital economy, manufacturing, and modern agriculture. China encourages its enterprises to invest in Malaysia in accordance with market rules and commercial principles, so as to achieve mutual benefit and win-win results.

Q: Do you see any solution to the dispute without jeopardizing the friendship between both countries?

A: Although China and Malaysia hold different positions on the South China Sea issue, the governments of both sides have settled the disputes and managed the differences properly through dialogues and consultations with goodwill and sincerity. We have maintained the general direction of friendly cooperation, making a positive contribution to promote regional peace, stability and development.

The peace and stability over the South China Sea are of common interests of China and Malaysia. I believe that the best way to settle disputes is through consultations and negotiations by the countries directly concerned, and the key to manage differences is through an effective rule-of-law mechanism. China will continue to enhance dialogue and consultation with Malaysia, committed to the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and strive to expedite the negotiations towards the early conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC). Besides, I also believe that we need to pursue joint development while setting aside disputes. This is a practical way in advancing cooperation. China is willing to enhance pragmatic maritime cooperation and promote joint development with Malaysia. I hope that through the joint efforts of both countries, we can make the South China Sea a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation.

Q: During your time here, what is the one thing you find unique about Malaysia?

A: The slogan "Malaysia, Truly Asia" is widely known throughout the world. Malaysia is a multiracial country where its people live together in harmony, giving birth to a one-of-a-kind Malaysian culture. I have experienced New Year, Spring Festival, Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Thaipusam in Malaysia. Seeing people of different ethnicity adhering to pandemic rules while striving to create a distinctive festival atmosphere, I felt a positive, optimistic and harmonious spirit, which had also enhanced my understanding of cultural diversity in Malaysia.

While China has 56 ethnic groups, there is great deal of similarity between the cultures of China and Malaysia. Both countries uphold values such as harmony, tolerance and friendliness. The peoples of both countries could embark on even more exchanges and interactions to enhance mutual cultural learning and boost people-to-people ties. I also look forward to touring around Malaysia after the pandemic is contained, to admire the beautiful tropical sights, taste local Malaysian delicacies, and experience its unique cultural diversity.

Q: Since your assumption of office as the Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia back in December 2020, what do you consider as the most challenging part of your job?

A: For the past 6 months since I assumed office as Ambassador of China to Malaysia, I have engaged extensively with Malaysian friends from government, parliament, political parties, media, think tanks and local communities. I was deeply impressed by their passions and aspirations to promote China-Malaysia relations. However, due to the pandemic, we have no choice but to hit the pause button on our offline interactions, and this has posed a huge challenge to our works.

In the meantime, we have also witnessed that the new normal has sparked new areas of cooperation between the two countries, including e-commerce, internet economy and digital economy. The role of emerging industries in driving the increase of consumption and investment is further elevated. Both countries have conducted multiple virtual activities across various sectors and at all levels. The people-to-people exchanges have maintained the strong momentum. As long as both sides continue to maintain close communication and cooperation, we must can turn the challenge into an opportunity, creating more possibilities for the development of China-Malaysia relations.

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