KLANG: Malaysia maintained strong financial and commercial co-operation with China with close to US$100bil (S$142bil) in total trade volume in 2015 despite a slowdown, said Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting.
Malaysia remains China's largest trading partner in ASEAN with bilateral trade totalling US$97.35bil last year, said the Prime Minister's Special Envoy to China.
"Trade volume in 2013 and 2014 surpassed the US$100bil mark.
"The achievement for 2015, although slightly less, is still quite strong considering the strengthening of the US dollar that year," he said after opening a Chinese New Year calligraphy and painting event at the Klang Hokkien Association here yesterday.
The event was to create a 152m-long calligraphy piece that is set to be listed in the Malaysia Book of Records (MBR).
Also present was Ong's wife Puan Sri Wendy Chong Siew Mei, an avid calligrapher who penned the word "monkey" with a couplet next to it in Chinese on a white scroll for the event.
Ong noted that small and medium enterprises (SMEs), small and medium industries (SMIs), the service sector as well as finance co-operation between Malaysia and China were full of potential and could be further strengthened and expanded.
"We still need to work hard, not only to maintain but also boost our trade figures with China.
"As the festive season draws near, the Chinese community have been a very important force driving SMEs and SMIs forward to contribute to Malaysia-China trade.
"We should continue to work hard to contribute. The country can still prosper as a whole, if the people work hard," he said, adding that Malaysians needed to be resilient to withstand a challenging year ahead.
Ong called on Malaysians to emulate the spirit of the legendary Monkey King in the famous Journey to the West story.
"Sun Wukong was always efficient, agile, righteous and helpful to the needy, standing up against evil. We should always make ourselves a positive and constructive force in society," he said.
He also noted that some of the negative values found in Sun Wukong should be avoided, such as his impulsive actions and impatience.
"We should always look at ourselves and review our weaknesses," he added.