A half-century of friendship: Strengthening ties between Malaysia and China

Over the past 50 years, Malaysia and China have built a robust relationship, deepening economic ties and enhancing people-to-people exchanges, says Dato Abdul Majid Ahmad Khan, former Malaysian ambassador to China and president of the Malaysia-China Friendship Association.

Over the past five decades, the relationship between Malaysia and China has flourished, evolving into a comprehensive and multifaceted partnership that spans economic, cultural, and social dimensions. Dato Abdul Majid Ahmad Khan, a distinguished figure in this bilateral journey, reflects on the profound changes and steady growth that have characterised this partnership. As a former Malaysian ambassador to China and the current president of the Malaysia-China Friendship Association, he has been at the forefront of fostering this enduring relationship.

Economic collaboration has been a cornerstone of the Malaysia-China partnership. The two countries have expanded their trade volumes significantly and diversified the sectors in which they cooperate. Initially focused on traditional industries like palm oil and rubber, the partnership has evolved to encompass a broad spectrum of industries, including manufacturing, technology, and services. China has emerged as Malaysia’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade surpassing $124 billion in 2021. This economic interdependence is bolstered by numerous agreements and joint ventures that facilitate mutual growth and development.

In addition to robust economic ties, people-to-people exchanges have become a crucial element of the relationship between the two nations. Educational exchanges, tourism, and cultural programs have fostered mutual understanding and strengthened bonds between the peoples of Malaysia and China. Chinese tourists, for instance, form a significant portion of Malaysia’s tourism sector, contributing to both economic benefits and cultural exchanges.

Dato Abdul Majid emphasizes that this enduring friendship has been built on mutual respect and shared interests. Both nations have consistently supported each other on various international platforms, advocating for a rules-based international order and promoting regional stability.