Extraordinary man from Middle Kingdom


 Dr. Huang Huikang

China’s top representative in Malaysia has made waves in a way that has earned much respect albeit with  raised eyebrows at times

DR Huang Huikang (pic) is no ordinary ambassador. This Chinese envoy has become one of the most-watched diplomats in Malaysia.

As China’s ambassador to Malaysia, he represents his country in important government and political functions here and works hard to promote bilateral ties, trade and investment between the two nations.

Like his predecessors, he mingles well with local Chinese leaders, praising the community for its sacrifices and devotion made over the decades in the development of Chinese education in Malaysia.

But unlike his low-key predecessors, this diplomat hands out cash donations to Chinese schools in a high-profile manner and celebrates Chinese New Year with locals.

The 62-year-old doctorate holder in international law and former law professor, who began his posting here in January 2014, has the poise of an envoy but stands out among his peers with his unconventional mannerism. While other ambassadors are usually more measured in their statements, he does not hesitate to make comments that may raise anxiety.

At official functions, Dr Huang is addressed as “ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary” – an ambassador’s official title in full. This may be no exaggeration.

Having served as vice mayor of Tangshan in Hebei province and completed stints as deputy consul-general in New York and minister counsellor-cum-deputy chief at China’s embassy in Ottawa, Dr Huang is a seasoned spokesman for China.

Late last year, he was re-elected as a member of the International Law Commission at the United Nations.

Here are snapshots of Dr Huang:

Role in vast investments

The role played by Dr Huang in bringing in large Chinese investments has put him in good stead.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit here in 2015 was crucial to Malaysia and the Middle Kingdom.

When Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak visited China in November last year, Dr Huang was also seen in Beijing. The trip resulted in the signing of deals and investments totalling RM144bil.

Of late, there has been quite a number of visits by China’s central departments, provinces and cities here to promote trade and forge closer ties.

The influence of Dr Huang is pervasive.

When China’s investments in Malaysia came under attack by some opposition politicians, he crafted a strongly-worded statement to these unnamed politicians, explaining how China could help the local economy and its people. But to these naysayers, China is stealing jobs, eating into the economic pie and depriving opportunities to small and medium businesses.

Once, during a nationwide tour of Malaysia, he cautioned that “slander, vilification and obstruction” could dampen the enthusiasm of Chinese firms.

Chinese investments in Malaysia

With investments from China coming to Malaysia in a never-seen-before scale, particularly under China’s Belt and Road initiative, Dr Huang has hinted that Malaysia should not take all this for granted.

Chinese enterprises are encouraged to venture into Malaysia because of the close ties between the two countries, he said.

Dr Huang spoke of how China would share the benefits from its economic growth with Malaysia, citing technology transfer and job creation.

Malaysian industries could become world class if they adopt advanced technology, he said.

Though not an economist, he predicted that the value ofthe Ringgit would rise in line with the increased foreign trade and foreign reserves.

To a large extent, Dr Huang’s remarks reflected China’s confidence as a superpower and its responsibilities on the global stage.

Even DAP – after criticising MCA for acting like “China’s agent” with the setting up of the Belt and Road Centre and MCA People’s Republic of China (PRC) Affairs Committee – paid Dr Huang a courtesy call in February.

And Dr Huang, ever the gracious, told the delegation that bilateral cooperation transcended political parties and race.

In the limelight

Dr Huang has gained substantial coverage in the Malaysian media, particularly in the Chinese dailies.

Last year, Dr Huang contributed RM40,000 to eight SJK (C) schools in Sembrong, Johor. Early this year, he gave RM100,000 to five schools in Nilai and Seremban, and another RM200,000 to 10 Chinese primary schools and one secondary school in Raub, Pahang.

While the recipients were grateful to him and possibly China, some saw this gesture as China flexing its financial muscle.

As usual, Dr Huang took it in his stride. He said the embassy would continue to support the development of Chinese education here.

More recently, he went on a high-profile trip within peninsular Malaysia to visit projects with Chinese investments, covering Negri Sembilan, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Pahang, Kedah, Malacca and Johor.

His visits were splashed across the Chinese dailies. The spotlight trained on Dr Huang has led to much feedback.

A Chinese community leader told Sunday Star: “He is grabbing so much limelight, even more than our own ministers.”

And a senior government official felt that it was “as though he is a politician on a campaign trail seeking re-election, or attempting to claim credit for the projects.”


Chinatown controversy

He did a Chinatown walkabout a day before the planned “Red Shirt” rally in September 2015 when a group led by Datuk Seri Jamal Yunos threatened a riot at the predominantly-Chinese trading area in Kuala Lumpur.

Accompanied by his wife, Dr Huang distributed mooncakes to the traders for the Mid-Autumn Festival celebration.

He told the media that China was against anyone resorting to violence to disrupt public order and that he would not stand idle if the interests of China’s citizens and firms were undermined. To him, it would be “a waste” if the harmony among the races in the area was jeopardised. However, his remarks were seen by some as an interference in Malaysia’s domestic affairs.

With all his fascinating activities and remarks, the diary of this diplomat will continue to come under the public microscope in the days to come.

Source: The Star by Tho Xin Yi

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Jong-un.

N Korean envoy declared as ‘persona non grata’ in Malaysia


Kang Chol

//players.brightcove.net/4405352761001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5347679568001

KUALA LUMPUR: North Korean Ambassador Kang Chol, who has accused Malaysia of colluding with foreign powers in the murder of Kim Jong-nam, must leave the country within 48 hours.

Kang Chol, who was summoned to Wisma Putra at 6pm yesterday, failed to turn up.

And in a turn of events, the ministry sent a diplomatic note to the embassy at about 9.30pm to inform the North Korean government that Kang Chol had been declared persona non grata.

Kang Chol has to leave by tomorrow.

In a statement, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said the Malaysian Government had demanded a written apology from North Korea for the ambassador’s recent accusations against the country over Jong-nam’s assassination at KLIA2.

That demand, he said, had been made du­ring a meeting between Wisma Putra officials and the North Korean high-level delegation on Tuesday.

“The officials, led by deputy secretary-general for bilateral affairs Raja Nurshirwan Zainal Abidin, met the delegation headed by Kim Song on Tuesday.

“The delegation was informed that should there be no response by 10pm that day, the Malaysian Government would take measures to best protect its interest.

Here you go: A North Korean embassy official (left) accepting a letter from Muhammad Haidas Muhammad Sharif Song, an assistant secretary of the Malaysian Foreign Ministry’s East Asia Division, at the North Korean Embassy in Bukit Damansara. 

“Almost four days have passed.

“No apology has been made and neither has there been any indication that one is forthcoming.

“For this reason, the Ambassador has been declared persona non grata,” said Anifah.

Persona non grata, in Latin, means one who has been declared so by the receiving state and barred from entering or remaining in the country.

It is the most serious form of disapproval that the country can apply to foreign diplomats and is often used to express displeasure at the conduct or policies of the sending state.

In his statement, Anifah also gave details leading to the move.

He said he had instructed his officers to summon Kang Chol, but neither the ambassador nor the embassy’s senior officials came to Wisma Putra.

“For this reason, the ministry – via a diplomatic note sent to the embassy this evening – informed the North Korea government that His Excellency Mr Kang Chol is declared persona non grata by the Malaysian Government.

“He is expected to leave Malaysia within 48 hours from the scheduled time of the meeting, which is 6pm on March 4 (yesterday).”

Malaysia, vowed the minister, would strongly act against any insult made against it or any attempt to tarnish its reputation.

“It should be recalled that the ambassador has alleged that the conduct of the investigation into the death of a North Korean citizen on Feb 13 indicates that the Malaysian Government had something to hide and that it colluded with outside powers to defame his country,” he said.

However, recent events, including the release of North Korean Ri Jong-chol due to the lack of evidence, was proof that the investigation was carried out in an impartial, fair and transparent manner, said Anifah.

This, he added, as “befits a country that practises the rule of law”.

Kang Chol, 64, began his diplomatic career as an assistant officer in the Middle East Department of North Korea’s Foreign Ministry.

His previous postings were in Somalia and Ethiopia and he had also served as the ministry’s director-general of administrative affairs.

Kang Chol, an alumnus of the Pyongyang University of Foreign Language (1972-73) and Somalia National University (1973-76), has two children.

Source: The Star by mergawati zulfakar, farik zolkepli, qishin tariq, jo timbuong, neville spykerman, royce tan

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Korean web of intrigue: Malaysia hunting for Kim Jong-nam murder


Two women suspects in Kim Jong-nam assassination remanded for seven days

KUALA LUMPUR: Two women arrested in connected with the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, have been remanded for seven days.

Selangor police chief Comm Datuk Seri Abdul Samah Mat said the two women have been remanded until Feb 21 to assist in the investigations.

One of the women has a Vietnam passport bearing the name Doan Thi Huong while the other has an Indonesian passport bearing the name Siti Aishah.

“They have been remanded. So far, there is no press conference as a press statement have been issued. We will update if there is anymore development,” Abdul Samah told The Star Online.

At 11.05am, Magistrate Sharifah Muhaymin Abd Khalib was at the Sepang police headquarters to grant the police’s application to remand the woman with the Vietnam passport.

Jong-nam, 45, was killed by two women who splashed his face with a chemical at the KLIA2 departure hall at about 9am on Monday. He was about to leave for Macau.

The women later got into a taxi and fled.

One of the women, who has the Vietnam passport, was arrested at the airport on Wednesday when she tried to board a flight out.

The woman with the Indonesian passport was arrested at 2am on Thursday.

Police are looking for four men who were in the company of the two women at the airport when Jong-nam was killed.

By Farik Zolkepli and Joash Ee De Silva The Star/|ANN

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Trump and China’s bumpy ride begins


Trump’s diplomacy
Hot button: Trump’s unpredictability is making him a big topic in China.— AFP

THE rest of the world will have to fasten its seat belts while the current worrying clash of superpowers China and the United States plays itself out. Although the saga of the underwater drone ended peaceably earlier this week, the drama signalled that the competition between the two has entered a new era. With help from the ubiquitous social media, their diplomatic engagement is taking place in real time swiftly, unpredictably and amid considerable tension.

The inauguration of President Donald Trump on Jan 20 is expected to see US-China ties transformed into a guarded quasi-friendship requiring day-to-day reassessment. The stability that prevailed during the eight years of the Obama administration is unlikely to survive. Trump is given to knee-jerk reactions and ill-considered grandstanding for the sake of quick gain and publicity, as well as for his brash pursuit of the art of the deal, none of which bodes well for US’ relations with Beijing.

Still a month from taking office, Trump has already endangered his country’s long-standing recognition of the One China Policy by accepting a phone call from Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wan, a breach of protocol adopted after Washington formally recognised communist China in the early 1970s.

President Barack Obama immediately warned that any shift from this policy would have a serious impact on American dealings with Beijing, an important trading partner and backer of the US economy. Aiming to renegotiate extant overseas deals, Trump does not appear to care, and seems ready to test Chinese mettle on every issue.

China’s regional neighbours are aware that the nature of its relationship with the US increasingly depends on Beijing’s dealings with other countries, including the 10 nations of South-East Asia.

The attitude in the Philippines has radically changed. Whereas Manila traditionally regarded the US as the region’s military guardian, current President Rodrigo Duterte- taking umbrage at perceived American slights-has welcomed Chinese overtures. Thanks to Washington’s tendency to overreach in its authority, perceptions elsewhere are not so different.

Thus, its chief justification for wielding influence here to serve as a stopgap against China assertiveness is on the wane.

The Philippines’ abrupt refusal to be a pawn in either of the major powers games is admirable, even if it comes with risks. With sovereign territory in the South China Sea at stake, Duterte is taking a gamble in realigning with Beijing, but if those two countries can settle their differences amicably and equitably, it will have been worthwhile. The other South-East Asian claimants to maritime territories in dispute are sure to follow suit.

During the Trump presidency, more than at any time before, China has a golden opportunity to show the region and the world that it is rational and responsible in its overseas dealings. With goodwill and a commitment to peace and stability, it can take advantage of America’s loss of credibility over the election of a man who is ignorant of foreign affairs and absent in the spirit of international diplomacy. Patriotism and profit alone guide Trump, and nearly half the American electorate stands by him.

Also to be expected is a cautious realignment among the more developed Asian powers particularly Japan, India and South Korea which might pursue greater mutual cooperation as a safeguard against potential American error and affront under Trump.

No one will be surprised, meanwhile, if President Trump cosies up to Russia. While he and Vladimir Putin deny there is any special bond between them, evidence to the contrary has mounted. But using Russia as a foil against China would be detrimental to American financial and geopolitical interests. And, for Asia, while Russian investment is welcome and valued, Moscow has only a modicum of Beijing’s economic clout.

Sources: The Nation/Asia News Network

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The new China Syndrome: don’t tell Chinese balik Tongsan, Tongsan coming to Malaysia


May the goodwill generated from the Middle Kingdom’s investments coming our way be infectious.

NO doubt about it – the love is back. MCA is basking in its renewed affection and appreciation as a useful partner to Barisan Nasional.

That was supremely obvious in Prime Minister and BN chairman Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s glowing speech at MCA’s annual general assembly on Sunday.

In the three years since the devastating general election in 2013, MCA has worked hard at rebuilding itself and has regained some of its mojo.

And it showed at this year’s assembly, which was very different from the mood and tone of the AGM post-GE13, when the party was still smarting from the anger and disappointment of its coalition partner.

Najib, feeling terribly let down by the lack of Chinese support, had lashed out at the community, calling their massive support for the Opposition a “Chinese tsunami”.

Not only that, he defended a Ma­lay newspaper’s front-page head­line: Apa lagi Cina mahu? (What else do the Chinese want?).

That year at its annual general assembly, he pointedly told MCA, whose parliamentary seats had been reduced to a mere seven and state seats to 11, half of what it won in the 2008 general election, that it needed “political Viagra” to raise its flagging spirit.

It was indeed a horribly low point for MCA. There were calls for the party to leave BN, but the leadership soldiered on, refusing to give up a long-established partnership.

A year later, at the MCA AGM, Najib did not mince his words again when he urged the party delegates to stop fighting among themselves because he found the factions confusing and tiresome.

All that has changed. On Sunday, he declared that there was no more Team A or B, only Team MCA, in recognition of Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai’s leadership in bringing unity and transforming the party.

But there was another feel-good factor at work at the AGM: the afterglow from Najib’s successful visit to Beijing a week earlier.

The Chinese government really rolled out the red carpet for Najib and his delegation, which included Liow, MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong and other MCA leaders, during a six-day visit that netted investment deals amounting to RM144bil, covering bilateral trade, education, culture and defence.

Beijing’s warm relationship with Putrajaya and China’s position as Malaysia’s largest trading partner did not happen overnight.

China has always remembered Malaysia for being the first Asean country to establish diplomatic relations with it when communism was still seen as a threat to the region.

That was thanks to Najib’s father, second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, who made that historic visit in 1974.

But it was the Malaysian Chinese community that went on to deepen and strengthen those ties. Again, this is something China remembers and is grateful for: Malaysian Chi­nese businessmen who invested in China in the late 1970s when Deng Xiaoping had just opened its doors to foreign investment.

Among them is the stellar tycoon Robert Kuok, said to wield great influence with the Chinese leadership, whose long-standing admiration for him culminated in CCTV, Chi­na’s state TV broadcaster, bestowing on him the China Econo­mic Per­son of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

Among the stories told include how Kuok earned the Chinese government’s trust and affection after he, the renowned Sugar King, secretly helped China overcome a severe sugar shortage in the early 1970s.

Interestingly, when Chinese leaders visit Kuala Lumpur or Singapore, they invariably choose to stay at Kuok’s Shangri-La hotel and that includes former president Hu Jintao and his successor, Xi Jinping, which is surely a measure of their continuing esteem for Kuok.

While the magnitude of the new investment deals raised eyebrows, China’s getting involved in building and funding major infrastructure projects isn’t new. After all, it was a Chinese construction company, CHEC, and a cheap Chinese government loan that helped build the second Penang bridge.

Granted, people have the right to be cautious and demand to know the details of such deals, and that should be respected. But there is no doubt that China has come to the rescue of Malaysia at a time when our economy needed a huge boost.

More importantly, Najib’s administration knows the role MCA leaders played in helping seal the deals.

After all, many of the MoUs signed concerned the development of transport infrastructure like the East Coast Rail Link and ports, which are under Liow’s portfolio as Transport Minister.

As reported, Liow made frequent trips to Beijing for meetings and wooed the Chinese to invest in Port Klang. Not only that, he was always on hand to host visiting Chinese dignitaries, like his counterpart Yang Chuantang, and Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

All the hard work came to fruition with the huge investments and the affirmation of trusted friendship between the two nations.

As Najib said, he continued to look east, like former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Look East policy, because China was the world’s biggest economy. But frankly, there isn’t any other direction to look for big investment.

The realisation of China’s importance to Malaysia is fast taking root; so much so, the Red Shirts which, just a year ago tried to storm Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown, have stopped their outright anti-Chinese attacks after Ambassador Dr Huang Huikang made it clear that Beijing would not stand for “incidents which threaten the interests of the country, infringe upon the rights of its citizens in doing business, or disrupt the relationship between Malaysia and China”.

But now that Najib has warmed up again to MCA and the Chinese from China are all the rage, it would really, really be nice if that love and goodwill could be spread around to Malaysian Chinese who have long invested in this place they call home and helped build it into a modern, progressive, successful nation.

It is time to stop making the Chinese community the convenient whipping boy and the bogeyman to frighten the Malays for political expediency. And no more allowing groups and individuals to spew hate speech and dangle the threat of another May 13.

This type of divisive politics has gone so bad that Liow reiterated his call for a National Reconciliation Council to strengthen the two pillars of national unity and cultural diversity, which he said had come under attack.

That is what is sorely needed to improve MCA’s chances of winning back the Chinese vote in the next general election, which is Najib’s ultimate challenge to the party.

As the joke that is going around now: no point telling the Chinese to balik Tongsan (go back to China) because Tongsan is coming to Malaysia.

By June H.L. Wong, So Aunty, So What? The Star/Asian News Network

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Xi, Trump discuss China-US cooperation


Working together ‘only correct choice’, Chinese leader tells president-elect

President Xi Jinping said on Monday that “there are a lot of things” China and the United States need to, and can, cooperate on, in a phone call congratulating Donald Trump on his US presidential election victory.

“Facts have proved that cooperation is the only correct choice for China and the United States,” Xi told Trump, noting that the past 37 years of diplomatic relations have brought concrete benefits to the people of the two countries, as well as facilitating global peace and stability.

Since China and the US now have important opportunities and great potential for cooperation, Xi said the two countries should better coordinate in promoting the economic development of both countries and the world, and expand exchanges in all fields to bring bilateral ties forward.

“During the call, the leaders established a clear sense of mutual respect for one another,” a statement from Trump’s presidential transition office said. “President-elect Trump stated that he believes the two leaders will have one of the strongest relationships for both countries moving forward.”

The two leaders also agreed to keep in close contact and meet at an early date.

Tao Wenzhao, a researcher of Sino-US relations at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said mutual interests between the US and China will not be subject to US political changes. Both US parties subscribe to developing relations with Beijing.

Tao said it will take time to see how Trump’s China policy develops after he takes office, though the new administration “will not necessarily resort to a trade war with China”, despite his statements during the campaign and pressure from many US politicians for greater containment of China.

Tao said that is “because he is a smart businessman, and a trade war surely impacts both sides”.

Fu Mengzi, a Sino-US relations researcher at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said there should be a distinction between Trump’s statements during the campaign and his policies as president.

“He knows the importance of China-US relations. He will find some ‘China hands’ to draft his policies toward China,” he said.

At a daily news conference on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China has remained in close communication with the US side, including Trump’s team.

Geng also said that China expects to expand cooperation with the new US administration at all levels and in various fields, including infrastructure construction .

“The fundamentals of China-US relations will not change in the future, even though frictions may occur,” Fu said.

Tao said the Chinese government will continue to cooperate with the Obama administration, citing the 27th China-US Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade coming up in Washington, DC.

By Mo Jingxi | China Daily.
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Jack Ma advisor to Malaysian Govt on digital economy to start with e-FTZ


https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/fb74uSG-7Ro

China-Malaysia Promising relationship: Najib delivering his speech in Beijing. ‘A digital economy with e-commerce is Malaysia’s next growth strategy,’ says the PM.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma agrees to be advisor to Malaysian Govt on digital economy

BEIJING: Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma has agreed to act as an advisor to the Malaysian Government on its digital economy aspirations, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

“We will be in partnership with Jack on the path and route to the future,” said Najib.

He said that Ma had also agreed to come to Malaysia to attend the launch of its E free trade zone in March.

Najib said this before he launched Alitrip Tourism Malaysia together with Ma Friday to lure Chinese tourists to Malaysia.

“You can see that China is the place to be. It has 300 million middle-class people, larger than US population.

“We hope, together with Alibaba, we can make Malaysia and China more prosperous,” he said.

In his Budget 2017 speech on Oct 21, Najib announced the setting up of a Digital Free Zone.

He also unveiled the Digital Maker Movement and the Malaysia Digital Hub to help nurture talents and create innovators to build a fully sustainable digital economy.

The digital economy is said to account for 16% of Malaysia’s GDP and is expected to rise.

By Ho Wah Foon The Star

Adviser Jack Ma to start with e-FTZ

Digital push: Najib with Alibaba Group executive chairman Jack Ma (left) during launching ceremonyjof the Alitrip Malaysia Tourism Pavilion. Looking on is Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Addul Aziz – Bernama.

BEIJING: Alibaba founder and executive chairman Jack Ma will kick-start his role as adviser to the Malaysian Government on its digital economy at the launch of a e-free trade zone (e-FTZ) in March.

Ma, a global business icon, has ideas on the set up of the e-trade zone, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.

“I had a (30-min) meeting with Mr Jack Ma. He has agreed to be adviser to our Government on the digital economy,” said the Prime Minister.

“Jack Ma did not ask for payment. I don’t think we can afford to pay him,” Najib said in jest later to a reporter’s question.

In his Budget 2017 ( see related posts below) speech last month, Najib announced that a digital economy that includes e-commerce would be Malaysia’s next growth strategy as this could bring about double-digit growth.

Alibaba is the largest and most well-known e-commerce giant in China and the world.

“We will be in partnership with Ma on the path and route to the future,” said Najib before launching the Alitrip Tourism Malaysia Pavilion in collaboration with Alibaba Group.

Najib said Malaysia would have to act fast to implement Alipayment, further develop online banking and online commerce as “we don’t want to miss the boat”.

On the pavilion, Najib said: “You can see that China is the place to be. It has 300 million middle-class people, larger than the US population.

“We hope, together with Alibaba, we can make Malaysia and China more prosperous,” he said.

Ma, before launching the pavilion jointly with Najib with the premier’s mobile phone, urged Chinese tourists to visit Malaysia and enjoy the culture there.

“We have a long history between these two countries. About 2,000 years ago, Chinese went to Malaya to make a living. Now, we should go there to enjoy life – not to survive,” said Ma.

He took the opportunity to pay tribute to the Prime Minister’s father for having the foresight to be the first leader in Asean to establish diplomatic ties with China when others shunned the republic for being a communist nation.

“Today, we are benefiting from this decision made 42 years ago. Malaysia is China’s largest trading partner in Asean and China is Malaysia’s biggest trading partner.”

On Malaysians, he noted that on average each Malaysian has 230 friends on his social network.

“This means Malaysians are friendly, trusting and inclusive. This is an excellent culture.

“I love Malaysia… you have the culture, environment, food and hospitality and inclusiveness.”

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