Global Insider: China-Malaysia Relations

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao recently made an official state visit to Malaysia. In an email interview, Shee Poon Kim, a visiting professor in the Department of Global Politics and Economics at Tamkang University in Taiwan, discussed China-Malaysia relations.

WPR: What is the recent history of China-Malaysia relations?

Shee Poon Kim: On May 31, 1974, Malaysia became the first of the five founding ASEAN member states to establish formal diplomatic relations with China. Over the past 37 years, Malaysian relations with China have evolved from mutual hostility (1949-1970) to détente and political accommodation (1970-1981), to economic cooperation alongside political and security ambivalence during the Mahathir era (1981-2003). Finally, during Abdullah Badawi's leadership (2003-2009) and the current Najib Razak administration, economics and trade have primarily relegated politics and diplomacy to the backseat. China's importance to Malaysia cannot be understated. When Najib Razak became premier on April 3, 2009, against the backdrop of domestic recession, he chose China as his first official overseas visit outside ASEAN. Wen Jiabao's trip to Malaysia on April 27-28, 2011, was a follow-up visit at Razak's invitation.

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