MALAYSIA - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's visit to China kicked off with a tour to Xi'an city in north- west Shaanxi province, even as the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 cast a pall over the trip.
The six-day visit marks 40 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries. Datuk Seri Najib will also travel to the port city of Tianjin and Chinese capital Beijing, where a number of bilateral and private sector agreements are expected to be inked in areas such as defence, tourism, culture and trade and investment.
Agreements to establish Chinese consulates in Kota Kinabalu and Penang, and a Malaysian consulate in Guangxi province's capital Nanning, will also be signed.
Mr Najib's second official visit to China since becoming PM in 2009 began on Tuesday but he flew back to Malaysia yesterday night to pay his last respects to the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah, who died yesterday. He will resume his visit in Beijing today with a scheduled meeting with Premier Li Keqiang.
Mr Najib will call on President Xi Jinping tomorrow. A meeting with the chairman of China's Parliament Zhang Dejiang is planned, and celebrations to mark the 40th anniversary of bilateral ties will be held at the Great Hall of the People on Saturday.
Issues expected to be discussed include enhancing cooperation in trade, investments, financial services, education, regional security and ASEAN-China cooperation, a statement by Malaysia's Foreign Affairs Ministry said.
Both sides are set to outline the future direction of bilateral relations which were upgraded from strategic cooperation to comprehensive strategic partnership last October.
At his Xi'an meeting with Shaanxi governor Lou Qinjian on Tuesday, Mr Najib reaffirmed the importance that Kuala Lumpur attaches to developing relations with Beijing, and said he is confident that the trip will promote cooperation and upgrade ties.
He also announced that Malaysia plans to establish a consulate office in Xi'an.