Busy schedule for Li during first official visit to Malaysia

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
PHOTO: Reuters

BEIJING: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will witness the signing of memoranda of understanding on bilateral co-operation in wide-ranging fields, including trade, culture and legal, during his visit to Kuala Lumpur this week.

China's Foreign Affairs Vice-Minister Liu Zhenmin told a press briefing here yesterday that Li would pay his first official visit to Malaysia while attending a series of ASEAN-related summits.

"Li will be attending a welcoming ceremony and a banquet hosted by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

"Both leaders will also have a bilateral meeting and exchange views on enhancing practical co-operation and planning for the future development of China-Malaysia ties," said Liu.

Li's visit, scheduled from Friday until next Monday, came after both countries celebrated the 40th anniversary of the establishment of formal relations last year.

Malaysia has been China's largest trading partner in ASEAN for seven consecutive years.

Malaysia is also the third country in Asia, after Japan and Korea, to have a trade volume of over US$100 billion (RM438 billion or S$142.2 billion) with China.

On reports that an exhibition on China's high-speed rail would be held in conjunction with Li's visit, Liu said this had not been confirmed yet.

"However, we do hope that this exhibition will materialise," he said, adding that similar events had been organised during Li's visits to other countries.

Chinese firms have expressed a keen interest to bid for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail project.

Broaching the subject of the South China Sea issue, Liu said China did not wish to see territorial disputes become a topic of debate during the East Asia Summit but that it was prepared to defend itself should some countries raise the issue.

"The right venue to discuss the conflict is through meetings between China and ASEAN on the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

"When the issue is raised outside this platform, it is spun into a 'hype' instead of a discussion to find a solution," he said.