'Malaysia needs strategy to maximise benefits from bilateral relations'

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin delivering his speech at the 6th World Chinese Economic Forum recently.

CHONGQING - Malaysia needs to strategise its approaches to reap maximum benefits from its bilateral ties with China, says Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

In wrapping up his six-day official visit to China, the Deputy Prime Minister said a high-level committee was essential to coordinate short-term and long-term actions.

"A strategic action plan is needed for us to map out our comprehensive partnership in detail.

"The committee should involve ministries, government-linked corporations, chambers of commerce and representatives from the private sector," he said.

Muhyiddin said with the abundant opportunities in China, Malaysia could cooperate with the country in almost every sector, including trade, defence, tourism, education, medical and more.

Malaysia is currently China's biggest trading partner among ASEAN countries.

"We already have the five-year plan to boost trade, and a joint communique was signed (to broaden and deepen cooperation) but what is most important now is the actions that we are going to take.

"To achieve the US$160 billion (S$212 billion) bilateral trade goal by 2017, we need a growth of 11 per cent every year.

"What are the things that we want to trade?

"Which city are we going into? Which exporters in Malaysia are to be involved?

"We need to study all these in detail," said Muhyiddin, who is also the Education Minister.

He concluded that in his visit, he could feel the sincerity of the Chinese leaders to work closely with Malaysia to deepen the bilateral ties.

"When I raised the issue of investment imbalance, Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli promised to get Chinese state-owned enterprises to look at investing in Malaysia."

Muhyiddin's visit, which began on Sunday, covered Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing.

He was conferred an honorary doctorate by the Beijing Foreign Studies University and launched the Internationalisation of the Bahasa Melayu programme there.

In Shanghai, Muhyiddin visited the Shanghai Normal University on Wednesday for a briefing on the city's education system and its "secrets" in obtaining high ranking in the Programme for International Student Assessment.

He flew to Chongqing on Thursday to attend the sixth World Chinese Economic Forum before leaving for home yesterday morning.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and Deputy Trade and Investment Minister Datuk Lee Chee Leong accompanied Muhyiddin on this visit.

Liow said Malaysia looked forward to taking part in the 21st century Maritime Silk Road initiated by China, not only in the trade aspects but also tourism.

"Ming Dynasty's Admiral Cheng Ho stopped in Malacca during his sea voyages.

"The historical city can be a destination of interest to the tourists from China," he said.

"The connectivity between China and Malaysia would be further enhanced when AirAsia X begins its direct flight from Kuala Lumpur to Chongqing in February," Liow added.