KUALA LUMPUR, June 17 — Chinese Premier Li Qiang is set to undertake a three-day official visit to Malaysia starting Tuesday to advance bilateral ties and commemorate the 50th anniversary of Malaysia-China diplomatic relationship.

This will be Li’s first visit to Malaysia since taking office in March 2023, a highly significant event that analysts say will elevate the comprehensive strategic relationship to new heights.

“China looks forward to working with Malaysia through this visit, to carry forward the traditional friendship, to deepen and expand cooperation in various areas, to deepen and solidify the China-Malaysia community with a shared future, and jointly open up the next, more splendid 50 years of bilateral relations,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said during a news conference in Beijing on June 11.

Li’s visit will provide an excellent opportunity for both Malaysia and China to assess the progress in their multifaceted bilateral relations and cooperation, as well as explore opportunities for new partnerships moving forward.

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Centre For New Inclusive Asia President Prof Koh King Kee highlighted the significance of the visit in marking the 50th anniversary of Malaysia-China diplomatic relations, underscoring the importance both countries place on their bilateral ties.

The visit is expected to further enhance political trust between the two nations and bolster Malaysia’s role as Asean chairman next year, he said.

“Li’s visit is anticipated to elevate bilateral relations to a new level, as the leaders of both countries are committed to building a Malaysia-China community with a shared future, bringing more benefits to the people of both nations,” Koh told Bernama.

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During his visit to Malaysia, Li will have an audience with His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim King of Malaysia and attend high-level meetings with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

This will mark the third meeting between Anwar and Li following their previous encounters in April 2023 during Anwar’s inaugural official visit to China, and later, in September 2023 at the 20th China-Asean (CAEXPO) in Nanning.

Several bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding (MoUs) are expected to be exchanged during Li’s visit.

The Chinese premier is also scheduled to visit the East Coast Rail Link’s (ECRL) construction site in Gombak, a flagship infrastructure project under the Beijing-led Belt and Road Initiative.

Li is also scheduled to attend a dinner reception commemorating the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic relations.

At the event, a commemorative book marking five decades of enduring ties will be unveiled. The book was produced by the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) in collaboration with Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry.

Li, 65, will be the highest-ranking Chinese political leader to visit Malaysia in nearly a decade.

Former premier Li Keqiang visited in November 2015 to attend the East Asian leaders’ meetings. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Malaysia in October 2013, an event that led to an elevation of bilateral relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

Malaysia and China established formal diplomatic relationship on May 31, 1974.

Over the past five decades, the two nations have built robust and significant relations extending beyond the realm of politics, economy, education and tourism.

Recent years have also witnessed increased cooperation in science and technology, as well as growing interest in people-to-people exchanges, culture, food and entertainment promotions.

China has been Malaysia’s largest trading partner for 15 consecutive years since 2009.

In 2023, total trade with China was valued at RM450.84 billion (US$98.80 billion), contributing 17.1 per cent to Malaysia’s global trade. — Bernama