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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Connected by mountains and waters


Relations between Asean and China are already strong, but expect them to draw even closer as they mark the 25th anniversary of dialogue relations.

THERE is a narrative in China that illustrates the interdependence of trade between Asean countries and China.

The little story, told in a programme produced by the state television broadcaster, goes like this: 36g of palm oil from Indonesia are needed to deep-fry three packets of instant noodles that would be consumed by Chinese customers.

The bio waste generated from producing the palm oil, meanwhile, can power 200 five-watt energy-saving light bulbs in Singapore for an hour.

To China, Asean is its “close neighbour connected by mountains and waters”. Collectively, the 10 nations in Asean are China’s third largest trading partner, while China is Asean’s largest trading partner.

In 2014, the two-way trade reached US$480bil (RM2 trillion) and investment was valued at US$130bil (RM558bil), with both sides aspiring to elevate the figures to US$1 trillion (RM4.3 trillion) and US$150bil (RM644bil) respectively by 2020.

To help realise this goal, China and Asean sealed a deal during the Asean summit in Kuala Lumpur to upgrade their Free Trade Area in November.

The geographical proximity makes Asean countries the first participants of China’s 21st century Maritime Silk Road (MSR), an initiative to foster connectivity and collaboration with countries along the route.

One of the flagship aspects of Belt and Road is railway connectivity. Last year, China embarked on rail projects with three Asean countries as part of Beijing’s ambition to connect China and Asean in order to facilitate the movements of goods and people.

In October, China won the bidding for the first high-speed rail (HSR) project in South-East Asia – the Jakarta-Bandung HSR in Indonesia.

A ground-breaking ceremony for the joint Lao-Chinese railway was held in December, followed by another ceremony to launch the Thai-Chinese railway project for two medium-speed lines.

Cooperation between ports is another key area of the MSR.

Malaysia, which is China’s largest trading partner in Asean, forged a port alliance with China during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s official visit to Malaysia in November.

China-Asean Business Council executive president Xu Ningning said Port Klang, which is the world’s 13th busiest port, can become an important locale for Chinese to “go out”, referring to China’s policy that encourages its enterprises to invest overseas.

“Malaysian investment in China is still higher than Chinese investment in Malaysia at the moment. I’d suggest Malaysia step up its promotional activities on investment opportunities to attract Chinese enterprises to Malaysia,” he commented on the sidelines of a China-Asean forum on the MSR in Beijing recently.

Former minister counsellor (economic affairs) in the Malaysian Embassy in China Datuk Ong Chong Yi pointed out that the two-way trade between Malaysia and China, which has reached US$ 102bil in 2014, accounted for one-fifth of the China-Asean trade.

Ong, who had just assumed the role as the CEO of China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park (Guangxi) Development Co Ltd, said once the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal and other multilateral or bilateral trade agreements are put in place, Malaysia would be an ideal destination to help China to enter other markets.

To provide capital support and drive infrastructure projects, China has set up the US$40bil (RM171.6bil) Silk Road Fund and a US$10bil (RM42.9bil) China-Asean Investment Cooperation Fund (CAF).

CAF CEO Li Wen said the fund, which focuses on investment opportunities in infrastructure, energy and natural resources in Asean, has invested in 10 projects in eight countries since its establishment five years ago.

Silk Road Fund Co Ltd managing director Luo Yang said the fund is interested in collaborating with Asean countries under the framework of connectivity.

A discussion of China-Asean relations will surely involve the South China Sea territorial row, which sees China and four Asean neighbours – Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and the Philippines – laying overlapping claims on the busy passageway.

While China has carried out extensive construction on the Spratly Islands (which it calls Nansha), it said it preferred direct consultation with other claimants to tackle the problem, and rejected the Philippines’ move to file claims with the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea over the dispute.

“The dispute is only temporary. As long as China and countries along the MSR have enough goodwill, political wisdom and sincerity, it will be solved through friendly negotiation,” Bai Tian, the deputy director of Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Asian Affairs Department, said.

He added: “South China Sea will be a sea of peaceful cooperation and prosperity.”

It is important to note that despite the territorial disagreement, all parties are still engaging each other actively in economic cooperation. For example, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and the Philippines have all joined the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as founding members.

The Beijing-based multilateral lender aims to help Asia build roads, power grids and other essential infrastructure. It will hold the first meetings of its board and executive council on Jan. 16-18, 2016. The AIIB counts 57 founding members.

This year, China and Asean will mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of dialogue relations.

A series of commemorative activities, including a summit, is expected to be held to mark the milestone and draw the region and China closer to each other.

By Tho Xin Yi Check-in China


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Hard work the key to realising 2016 goals; Events that shaped China in 2015

Hard work the key to realising 2016 goals

President Xi Jinping looked forward to 2016 in a speech calling for confidence and hard work for a good start in the home stretch of building a “well-off society in an all-round way”.

In his New Year speech, Xi said a Party meeting in late October had set out a promising blueprint for development over the next five years.

He said lifting tens of millions of rural people out of poverty was his top concern and called for joint efforts to achieve this goal.

“We should care for all people facing difficulties … making them feel warm from the bottom of their hearts,” he added.

China must not be absent from international affairs, Xi said in the speech, as the world was looking forward to voices and answers from China.

“The world is so big, the challenges so complicated. For those people torn by hardship and war, we need to offer not only sympathy and compassion, but also responsibility and action.

“China will always welcome the world with an open embrace, and we will extend our hand to those in difficulty as best as we can, and our ‘circle of friends’ will grow,” Xi said, borrowing a term from the messaging app WeChat. — China Daily / Asia News Network

Events that shaped China in 2015

THE year 2016 will see China implementing its 13th five-year plan, pursuing an economic growth of no less than 6.5% and hosting the G20 summit.

But before that, let’s take a look at eight major headlines in China in 2015.

China Victory Day parade

All eyes were on Beijing on Sept 3 as Chinese soldiers marched along Chang’an Avenue to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victories of the Anti-Japanese War and World Anti-Fascist War.

Seventeen other countries such as Russia, Mexico and Cuba sent their troops to take part in the parade, while Russian President Vladimir Putin and South Korean President Park Geun-hye were among the international dignitaries in attendance.

But most Western leaders, as well as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, shunned the event. The parade was widely interpreted as a showcase targeting Japan, which China has denied.

Yuan in the basket

The Chinese yuan has been admitted into the special drawing rights (SDR) currency basket in the Washington-based International Monetary Fund alongside the US dollar, British pound, Japanese yen and euro.

Back in 2010, the yuan had failed to be included in the SDR as it did not meet the “freely usable” criterion. China then introduced a series of measures to reform its financial market and speed up the process of capital account convertibility. The new basket, to be launched on Oct 1, 2016, will feature the yuan with a 10.92% weighting.

Xi visited the United States

Chinese President Xi Jinping had his first trip to the United States as China’s leader in September. Among the deliverables in a 49-point outcome list of Xi’s state visit published by the Xinhua News Agency were conducting a forum to exchange views on judicial reform, seeking to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation, designating 2016 as China-US Tourism Year and agreeing not to steal each other’s trade secrets.

When speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, Xi pledged a donation of US$1bil (RM4.29bil) to the UN for a peace and development fund. He also took a group photo with the chief executives of top US and Chinese tech companies, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Alibaba’s Jack Ma, at the Microsoft campus.

The Chinese media noted that the total market value of the companies present was almost US$2.5 trillion (RM10.73 trillion) “or one-tenth of the combined GDP of China and the United States, or the total GDP of the United Kingdom”.

… and the United Kingdom

Xi visited Britain in October. China and the United Kingdom issued a joint statement declaring a “global comprehensive strategic partnership for the 21st century” which, among others, pledged to support each other in (China’s) Belt and Road initiative and (Britain’s) National Infrastructure Plan and the Northern Powerhouse.

During Xi’s trip, China General Nuclear Power Corporation entered into a deal with energy company EDF for a £18bil (RM115bil) nuclear plant at Hinkley Point, Somerset.

A light-hearted moment was captured in a selfie at Manchester City’s ground. China’s elite politicians are rarely seen taking selfies but at Manchester City’s ground, football fan Xi obliged to a selfie with footballer Sergio Aguero and UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Xi’s UK trip was hailed by Xinhua as opening a “golden era” of China-UK ties.

Belt and Road is underway

The Belt and Road initiative continued to be a buzzword in China. Countries along the routes – land-based Silk Road Economic Belt and seafaring 21st Century Maritime Silk Road – have responded warmly to the initiative to foster connectivity and cooperation.

The Asian Infrastructure Invest­ment Bank (AIIB), a development bank for infrastructure projects, was formally established in Decem­ber and will be put into operation following the first-ever meeting of its board of directors and executive council in January.

The US$40bil (RM171bil) Silk Road Fund, meanwhile, announced its first investment – a US$1.65bil (RM7bil) Karot hydropower station in Pakistan – during Xi’s state visit to the country in April.

The US presence in the South China Sea

The South China Sea, an important maritime passage for trade and a resource-rich region, is the subject of overlapping territorial claims among China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. China has said that its extensive construction on the Spratly Islands, which it calls Nansha, is for civilian purposes.

The United States, in denying China’s claims over the rocks and reefs, expanded its military presence in the waters by sending a destroyer within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands in October.

In early December, it deployed a spy aircraft to Singapore for the first time to step up its surveillance in the South China Sea.

Most recently, an American B-52 bomber unintentionally flew within two nautical miles of the Cuarteron Reef, prompting Beijing to lodge solemn representations with the United States.

First Nobel laureate in science

In October, Tu Youyou became the first Chinese citizen to win a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering the anti-malaria drug artemisinin, which is extracted from sweet wormwood.

Tu, 85, is also the first female Chinese national to win a Nobel. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Tu’s Nobel prize “marks a great contribution of traditional Chinese medicine to the cause of human health”.

Enter the second child

China’s decades-long one-child policy has officially been scrapped. All couples are now allowed to have a maximum of two children in a legislation rubber-stamped on Dec 27 to address the challenges of an ageing population.

Xinhua said the two-child policy would inject 30 million more people into the workforce by 2050, lower the percentage of senior citizens in the population by 2% and boost economic development by 0.5%.

By Tho Xin Yi Check-in-China

Video and full text of President Xi’s New Year address 

December 31, 2015

In a televised address on Thursday evening, Chinese President Xi Jinping extended New Year wishes to people across the Chinese mainland, compatriots in the Hong Kong SAR, the Macao SAR and Taiwan, along with overseas Chinese and friends in other countries and regions around the world.

During the speech, Xi recounted the achievements made through the year with regard to economic growth, judicial and education reforms and the fight against corruption, while pledging that the Communist Party of China and the government will continue their efforts to improve people’s livelihood.



Comrades and friends, ladies and gentlemen,

In a few hours, the New Year bell will be ringing. We will say goodbye to the year 2015 and welcome the first ray of sunshine of the year 2016.

At this turn of the year, I wish to extend my New Year greetings to the people of all ethnic groups in China, to our compatriots in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Macao Special Administrative Region, to our compatriots in Taiwan and overseas Chinese, as well as to friends in other countries and regions in the world.
As long as we pay, there will be gains.

In 2015, the great efforts of the Chinese people have paid off.

China’s economic growth continues to lead in the world. Reform has been pushed forward comprehensively. Reform in the judicial system has been further deepened. The special educational campaign of “Three Stricts and Three Earnests” has promoted the improvement of the political eco-system. The fight against corruption has been carried out deeply. Through the joint efforts of the people of all ethnic groups across the country, we see a successful conclusion of the “12th Five-Year Plan”. The general public has enjoyed the increasing “sense of gain”.

During this past year, we solemnly commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War. We held a grand military parade, making the truth clear to all that justice will prevail, peace will prevail, and the people will prevail.

Mr. Ma Ying-jeou and I met in Singapore, with a handshake that transcended 66 years of time and space. This shows the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations is the common wish of the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

During this past year, Beijing won the bid to host the 24th Winter Olympic Games. The renminbi has been included into the Special Drawing Rights basket of the International Monetary Fund. China’s domestically-produced C919 large passenger aircraft rolled off the production line. China’s super computer broke the world record for a sixth consecutive year. A satellite developed by Chinese scientists to detect “dark matter” was launched. Tu Youyou became China’s first scientist to win a Nobel Prize.

These show that as long as we persevere, dreams can always be realized. During the past year, we had happiness, as well as sadness.

The capsizing of the “Eastern Star” ferry, the major fire and explosions at Tianjin Port, the Shenzhen landslide and other accidents have taken the lives of many of our countrymen. And some countrymen were brutally killed by terrorists.

All these are deeply heartbreaking. We will remember them. We wish all the deceased to rest in peace and the living safe and healthy.
Some difficulties and troubles still remain in people’s daily life.

The Communist Party of China and the government will surely continue efforts to effectively guarantee the safety of people’s lives and property, guarantee the improvement of people’s livelihood, and guarantee people’s health.

The year 2016 is the first year when China enters the crucial period to build a moderately well-off society in an all-around way.

The 5th Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee has made clear China’s development direction for the next five years. The future is encouraging and inspiring. But happiness does not fall from the sky.

We shall establish a spirit to prevail, continue to immerse ourselves in hard work, implement the development concepts of innovation, coordination, green, openness and sharing.

We shall put forth efforts in promoting structural reform, and reform and opening up, promoting social fairness and justice, as well as creating a green political eco-system.

We shall get off to a good start as we advance in the crucial period for China to build a moderately well-off society in an all-around way.

To build a moderately well-off society in an all-around way, our 1.3 billion people should join hands and move forward together. A better life for tens of millions of poor people in rural regions is dear to my heart.

We have sounded the trumpet to win the battle of poverty alleviation. All Party members and fellow countrymen should pull together and work hard as a team, put forth efforts to lengthen this short stave. We should make sure that the entire poor population in rural regions can rise out of poverty on schedule. For all the people in difficulties, we should care for them and let them feel the warmth from deep in their hearts.

Comrades and friends, ladies and gentlemen,

We have only one earth, which is the common home of people of all countries.

During this past year, Chinese leaders have participated in many international conferences and conducted many diplomatic activities. We have achieved solid progress in promoting the development of the “Belt and Road” initiative. We engaged in many international affairs including the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and issues on dealing with global climate change.

The world is so big, and the problems are so many. The international community expects to hear China’s voice and see China’s plans. China cannot be absent.

Seeing the people trapped deep in suffering and war, we should have compassion and sympathy, but also take responsibilities and action. China will always open its arms to the world and will make all efforts possible to extend our helping hand to the people facing difficulties. Let our “circle of friends” grow bigger and bigger.

I sincerely hope that the international community can work together. With more peacefulness and more cooperation, let’s turn confrontation into cooperation, and turn swords into ploughshares.

Let’s work together to build a community of common destiny of all mankind, which is shared by all people in every country.

Thank you all.

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