Malaysia-China ties still at peak despite temporary ban over coronavirus, Putrajaya’s special envoy says

Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai speaks to reporters after attending the Chinese New Year celebration at King George V Old Folks’ Home Kuala Lumpur on January 28, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai speaks to reporters after attending the Chinese New Year celebration at King George V Old Folks’ Home Kuala Lumpur on January 28, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 28 — Despite a temporary travel and visa ban against residents of Hubei province and Wuhan, ties between Malaysia and China is still the best it has ever been, the Prime Minister’s special envoy to China Tan Kok Wai said today.

Tan said that the government of China has already banned its citizens from leaving from Wuhan and no one in the affected area shall be participating in overseas tours as they couldn’t leave at all, even without the temporary travel suspension.

“No, I don’t think [there’s problem in Malaysia and China relationship] because even their citizens from many townships in Hubei, especially Wuhan, are in lock-down.

“It won’t be a problem. After all, Malaysia and China are in the best relationship ever,” he told reporters when met at the Selangor King George V Old Folks’ Home Jubilee Fund’s Chinese New Year celebration here .

Tan, who is also the chairman for Malaysia-China Business Council, said he hopes that the visa suspension will be temporary and the international community would be supportive in order to defeat the 2019-nCoV outbreak together.

He admitted that 2020, which should be the focus of both countries’ cross-cultural tourism, is affected badly by the outbreak, which has infected thousands around the world and recorded more than 100 deaths in China.

“And actually, there should be a boom for the arrival in Chinese tourism, but unfortunately because of the outbreak, it will actually affect tourism sectors and tourism operators.

“This is a very challenging time for China and I hope the global community will work together helping China overcome this epidemic to stop the outbreak and get things back to normal for global peace harmony not only for Chinese citizens, but everyone in the world,” he said.

Yesterday, Putrajaya temporarily banned residents from the Hubei province and its capital city of Wuhan from entering Malaysia by suspending all available visa programmes facilitating their entry here.

Earlier today, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture expressed confidence that it can meet this year’s tourist arrival target, even as China restricts traveling to contain a novel coronavirus from spreading.

Minister Datuk Mohammadin Ketapi, however, said there is a probability that the outbreak could drive the numbers down, but insisted it would be marginal.

China has over the years become a key tourism market for Malaysia. Its tourists were the third largest in foreign tourist arrival into the country last year and account for a third in tourism money receipt, official statistics showed.

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