Sharing vaccine with Malaysia highlights ‘historic friendship’: ambassador to China

By Deng Xiaoci and Xie Wenting Source: Global Times Published: 2020/10/12 18:53:40

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (sixth from the left), foreign ministers from 10 ASEAN member states and ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi (right) join hands on stage at a foreign ministers' meeting between China and ASEAN on the COVID-19 in Vientiane, Laos, on February 20, 2020. Photo: AFP

  Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi is scheduled to arrive in Malaysia on Monday for a visit, and the status of China's COVID-19 vaccine development will be one of the topics expected to be discussed when he meets with Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. 

China's sharing of its vaccine, once available, with Malaysia will be seen as another expression of the very good historical relations between the two countries, said Malaysian Ambassador to China Raja Nushirwan Zainal Abidin in an exclusive interview with the Global Times ahead of Wang's visit to the Southeast Asian country.

Observers hailed it as a move to further tap into the cooperation potential between the two sides in terms of pandemic response to enhance regional public health management capability.

"Despite disputes over some reefs in the South China Sea, the development of relations between Beijing and Kuala Lumpur remains practical and at a high level, and Wang's visit to Malaysia will serve to enhance communication, manage differences, and more importantly, strengthen the friendship between the two," Gu Xiaosong, an expert on Southeast Asian studies at the Guangxi Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday.

Malaysia reported a total of 15,657 confirmed infection cases of COVID-19 as of Monday afternoon, with 157 deaths from the disease, according to data by the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.

Malaysia is home to many flagship projects under the framework of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, including construction projects for railways, industrial zones and ports. Future COVID-19 vaccine development cooperation and sharing will bring bilateral ties to a higher level, benefiting not only the two countries but also the entire region, Gu noted. 

According to an official press release from the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday, during Wang's visit, the two sides will discuss topics including the status of China's COVID-19 vaccine, enhancing economic cooperation, post-pandemic collaboration and strengthening existing ties and cooperative efforts between the two countries. 

Raja Nushirwan Zainal Abidin said that at the very beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Malaysia donated medical supplies to China. When Malaysia encountered difficulties, China also donated very generously. 

"We do not see this as a transaction or a reciprocal exchange, but rather based on very good fundamental relations between both our countries. So now if vaccines are made available to us, we will consider that to be another expression of the very good historical relations between our two countries," he stressed, adding that it is a matter of friendship between two fraternal countries.

China will work together with Malaysia and enhance cooperation in COVID-19 vaccine development and resumption of production, Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Bai Tian told Malaysia local media outlet New Straits Times on October 1. 

Wang said at a recent China-ASEAN foreign ministers' video conference that China will prioritize Southeast Asian countries in distributing the COVID-19 vaccine.


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