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China, Malaysia to upgrade military, trade ties
October 4, 2013, 8:04 am


The two sides said they will target a bilateral trade figure of $160 billion by 2017 [Xinhua]

China and Malaysia agreed on Friday to step up military and trade ties after a meeting between the leaders of the two Asian nations.

Visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced upgrading bilateral ties to a “comprehensive strategic partnership” in Kuala Lumpur.

The two sides said they will target a bilateral trade figure of $160 billion by 2017.

Najib and President Xi also agreed on more joint military exercises between the two countries.

“We have agreed to strengthen our partnership with naval defence, joint military exercises to combat terrorism and promote security,” Xi said after meeting Najib.

On Thursday, the Chinese president said he envisions “a community of common destiny with members of the ASEAN”.

“China highly values its relations with Malaysia. The China-Malaysia relationship is taking the lead among China’s relations with ASEAN [the Association of Southeast Asian Nations] members,” said Xi.

China’s increased engagement with ASEAN comes in the backdrop of the much talked about American Asia pivot for which US Secretary of State John Kerry and Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel have tried to rally support from the ten countries that form ASEAN.

China is Malaysia’s largest trading partner and bilateral trade is expected to hit $70 billion by the end of the year.

“Not only is China a dialogue partner with ASEAN, but it’s also an integral part of the East Asia summit. Because of that, the relationship between China and ASEAN is very important and continues to grow particularly in terms of trade and China’s involvement in major infrastructure projects in the whole region,” said the Malaysian prime minister.

Xi recently signed trade agreements of at least $28 billion with neighbouring Indonesia.

The Chinese leader will now travel to the Indonesian resort island of Bali for the 21st informal economic leaders’ meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

Owing to the continued crisis of the US debt ceiling and government shutdown, US President Barack Obama has cancelled his Asia trip and APEC meeting.

Source: Agencies