China, Malaysia renew five-year economic pact, review visa-free travel

KUALA LUMPUR, June 19 — China and Malaysia today committed to renew a five-year economic and trade cooperation agreement and review the visa-free travel pact between the two countries during a visit by Chinese Premier Li Qiang to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties.

PM Lee, who arrived in Kuala Lumpur yesterday evening, met with Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in the administrative capital Putrajaya today. After the meeting, PM Lee and PM Anwar witnessed the signing of several bilateral agreements, including the export of fresh durian from Malaysia to China.

The agreement will see Malaysia, one of the world’s top producers of the strong-smelling fruit, join Southeast Asian neighbors Thailand and Vietnam in exporting fresh durian to China’s multi-billion-dollar market. Malaysia was previously only allowed to export durian products and frozen whole durians to China.

The trip marks Li Keqiang’s third visit to the region, which also includes visits to New Zealand and Australia, as China seeks to expand its influence and investment in the Asia-Pacific region amid ongoing geopolitical tensions and competition with the United States.

PM Li will also meet with Malaysia’s King Ibrahim and on Wednesday attend a groundbreaking ceremony at the construction site of the East Coast Rail Transit (ECRL), part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

The 665-kilometer (413-mile) railway, costing 50.27 billion ringgits, is set to link the east and west coasts of Peninsular Malaysia by the end of 2026.

The rail line, first proposed in 2017, is being built by the Malaysian branch of China Communications Construction Co. Ltd. In March, Malaysia said it would consider extending the China-backed project to its border with Thailand. – Reuters

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