Malaysia-China Relations: People-to-people Connectivity Is the Key
On May 9, 2018, Malaysia's 14th general election poll, the opposition party named Alliance of Hope won the election and secured the state's ruling power. As a matter of fact, this change has an impact on Malaysia's internal affairs and foreign policy.
Whether it has an impact on the relations between Malaysia and China, it is a matter that concerns to people from all walks of life in two countries. From August 17 to 21, Malaysia’s new prime minister Mahathir launched his first official visit to China after his inauguration. When Mahathir met China President Xi Jinping, Mahathir indicated that the visit to China was an important move by the new Malaysian government and was intended to show the Chinese government and the Chinese people that Malaysia's friendly policy toward China will remain unchanged. President Xi Jinping welcomed Mahathir's visit to China. He appreciated the good gesture from the new Malaysian government and from Mahathir of highly valued the great importance to China-Malaysia relations. He also appreciated that Mahathir has regarded China as an opportunity for development and supports the Belt and Road Initiative. He further appreciated Mahathir's important contribution in promoting regional cooperation in Asia.
Two countries signed memorandums of cooperation related to some new areas and jointly issued a joint communique between the People's Republic of China and the Malaysian government. The communiquehas revealed that bilateral relations between Malaysia and China will continue to be in good shape, although some adjustments are needed.
The ability to maintain good bilateral relations is based on the commonality of the two sides in the past half century. In 2013, President Xi Jinping proposed the Belt and Road Initiative and strengthened the five links, namely policy communication, road connectivity, smooth flow of goods, currency circulation and people-to-people connectivity.
In Malaysia, there are Chinese state-owned enterprises, private enterprises, some official and non-governmental organizations, and individuals, to varying degrees, doing social activities that help the people.
In June 2018, during Ramadan in Malaysia, Chinese enterprises successively held Ramadan charity events at various locations and with local institutions, such as Industrial And Commercial Bank Of China (Malaysia) Berhad cooperated with the National Blood Bank of Malaysia to organize a “Give a pint of blood, save three lives" blood donation activities; China Railway Construction Malaysia Company and Kuala Lumpur M101 Ferris Wheel project owners organized staff to provide free porridge for Muslims outside the Kuala Lumpur mosque; China Harbour Malaysia Company held a Iftar dinner and invited children and teachers from the Muslim orphanage to celebrate the festival; China Power Construction Group held an Eid al-Fitr dinner in Bintulu to spend a happy night with the local Muslim residents; China COSCO Shipping Malaysia donated sports equipment and 30 computer equipment to Malaysian public elementary schools, built the "Panda Captain Computer Room" for the school, etc., all of which are social efforts that builds people-to-people connectivity.
The non-governmental organizations and associations of the two countries are also actively engaged in "folk diplomacy." Persatuan Usahawan China di Malaysia (PUCM) is one of those, of which had jointly undertaken the “Iron Charity Ride” with the Malay royal family – visiting the poor in the Malay village and providing the necessary assistance where needed most. PUCM believes that targeted activities and donations that are based on the specific needs of poor and disadvantaged groups can be organized more frequently and will be supported and acknowledged by the local communities.
Building people-to-people connectivity is not just about charity and aid, but in a sense, it is a kind of friendship which is built on equality, trust, mutual assistance and sincerity between individuals, communities, and enterprises, and even to a certain extent of "marital relationship”. One of the magazines articles is about the story of a transnational marriage entitled "My Transnational Marriage with Malay”. Transnational marriages need to overcome many obstacles, from unfamiliar and distrust to acceptance of each other; from barriers in family culture and language communication to the trust and support of transcending language; from a test of a Chinese girl on determination of a Malay, they eventually built a happy family. Transnational marriage is a good example of people-to-people connectivity. From knowing each other till loving each other, the changing process reveals the fine quality and attitudes of the parties, including equality, trust, tolerance, understanding, sincerity where these can also be applicable in the interactions between the state, enterprises, associations, individuals and the people in the host country.
In 2018, President Xi Jinping advocated the "One Belt, One Road" for the fifth year. From going abroad, encountering difficulties and resolving difficulties, it is a virtuous cycle for the country and every Chinese enterprise involved, and people-to-people connectivity is the key of solving the problems arise.
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