Relations between Malaysia and China dated back hundreds of years and there are plenty of room for bilateral cooperation under the new Malaysian government, said the country's newly appointed special envoy to China.
"Historical and cultural ties between our two countries extended way back for more than 600-years and our comprehensive strategic partnership has a proven track record in recent times, notably for our partnership in the Belt and Road Initiative," said Tan Kok Wai, who was appointed as Malaysian Prime Minister's special envoy to China and head of the Malaysia-China Business Council in August.
Being an seasoned Member of Parliament, Tan is the National Chairman of the Democratic Action Party, one of four component parties of Pakatan Harapan coalition that has come to power following the general election in May.
He was appointed to promote bilateral trade, investment and all economic related activities between the two countries, said Tan. He was also entrusted with the role of fostering people-to-people ties.
Tan explained that his role was different than that of an ambassador but would complement Malaysia's diplomatic ties with China.
Comparing his recent visit to Shanghai with his first visit to China in 1992, Tan said China's growth was "phenomenal", going from a developing nation into becoming the engine of growth for the world's economy in record time.
Malaysia could learn from China's rapid progress in its own drive towards developed nation status, said Tan, adding that he was confident the two countries would ultimately put any differences aside in favor of mutual prosperity.
The new government under Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was committed to fostering a balanced and healthy bilateral relationship with China, he said.
One of Tan's focuses is on a 5-year program on Malaysia-China trade and economic cooperation for the period of 2018-2022, which was announced during Mahathir's recent official visit to China.
"Both sides will actively discuss the formulation of the plan and I will ensure that every effort from our side will be made to ensure it is successful," he said.
Malaysia is China's top trading partner within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with bilateral trade expected to exceed 100 billion U.S. dollars this year.
Tan is also eyeing on drawing more Chinese tourists to his country.
"A key economic bridge between China and Malaysia is tourism and a joint project namely, Malaysia-China Cultural Tourism Year 2020 will be organized with full efforts to be undertaken by both countries," Tan said.
More than 2.2 million Chinese tourists visited Malaysia in 2017, bringing a much-needed source of income at the time the local economy had slowed down.
"At the same time, we will continue to actively promote our agricultural, agro-based and primary commodity products while drawing from China's vast experience in advanced and sophisticated high value industries," Tan said.