It’s a packed schedule for China’s President as the two countries explore the many opportunities available.
CHINA’S President Xi Jinping has a packed schedule today after touching down in Malaysia from Jakarta, Indonesia, yesterday.
In his first state visit to Malaysia – and South-East Asia – since he assumed the presidency in March this year, Xi will attend a state welcoming ceremony, meet Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and witness the signing of agreements and memorandums of understanding (MoUs).
His programme also includes giving a keynote address at the Malaysia-China Economic Summit, which is co-organised by the International Trade and Industry Ministry, Malaysia-China Business Council and China’s Ministry of Commerce.
Tomorrow, Xi will depart for Bali, Indonesia, to attend the 21st economic leaders’ meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum.
The People’s Daily, the official paper of the Chinese Communist Party, summed up in a recent news report that his trip will “deepen economic cooperation in Asia and make huge contribution to lasting peace and prosperous development in the Asia-Pacific region”.
For Malaysia, Xi’s visit will lead up to the 40th anniversary of the diplomatic ties between both countries next year.
Both Malaysia and China have a lot to look forward to, as a result of the relations that have seen remarkable growth over the years.
For one, Malaysians are waiting eagerly to coo over the pair of cuddly giant pandas that will be loaned to us from China.
Enterprises in both countries are also looking forward to see the sister industrial parks in Kuantan, Pahang and Qinzhou, Guangxi, come to fruition.
According to statistics in 2012, Malaysia is China’s number one trading partner in Asean for the fifth year running, while China is Malaysia’s top trading partner for the fourth consecutive year.
Xinhua quoted Xi in an interview before his trip that Malaysia stands a chance to be the third Asian country to have its bilateral trade volume with China surpassing the US$100bil (RM322.7bil) mark, after Japan and Korea.
Malaysian businesses operating in China are optimistic that Xi’s visit will raise Malaysia’s profile in China.
Malaysian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China (Maycham) secretary general Will Fung said the Chinese enterprises would have their attention focused on the visit to sniff out potential business and investment opportunities available following the diplomatic contact.
Maycham, with its presence established in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong, has approximately 550 corporate and individual members.
Fung explained that foreign investors had to refer to the Catalogue for the Guidance of Foreign Investment Industries before setting up businesses in China.
The industries are divided into three categories, namely encouraged, restricted and prohibited.
“Local partners are needed for investment in industries in the restricted category, while foreign investment is not permitted altogether in industries that fall in the prohibited category.
“The catalogue is reviewed from time to time. The government sometimes loosens up and removes certain industries from the prohibited category,” he said.
“The sky is the limit when it comes to doing business in China,” observed Fung, “thanks to the massive market and high spending power”.
However, one main hindrance looms – bureaucracy.
“The time needed for a business licence application to be approved is too long in some parts of China.
“It is relatively fast to obtain the green light in first-tier cities, but in provinces where the local authorities are less familiar with foreign investment, it can sometimes take months, even if you follow the guidelines diligently,” Fung said.
He added that Maycham hoped to see the procedures standardised across the board to expedite the approval process.
Meanwhile, on the educational front, Malaysia will be the first country to host an overseas branch campus of a Chinese higher learning institution.
Najib announced in January that Xiamen University had been given the permission by the Chinese government to set up a campus abroad.
The branch in Salak Tinggi, Sepang, is expected to be operational in September 2015.
At the moment, the number of exchange students in both countries exceeded 15,000.
Malaysian Students Association in China said the students were proud to have the Chinese top leader visiting their home country in his maiden trip to South-East Asia.
“We believe that the relationship between the two countries will be taken to new heights, and hopefully it will also translate into more assistance and support for students studying in China.”
> The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own. The Star/Asia News Network