The growth in their bilateral ties and cooperation validates the trust Malaysia has placed in China, said Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose visit here is being closely watched for signs of a tilt towards Beijing.
Few countries can represent the region's potential better than both countries in what will be the Asian Century, he added, as he warned former colonial powers against meddling in the domestic affairs of their "once exploited" states.
"Malaysia and China are united in agreeing on the need to defend the sovereignty of the nation state and in the belief that the individual histories, values and governance systems of different countries must be respected," Datuk Seri Najib wrote in an op-ed published in the state- run China Daily yesterday.
Calling the united stance "particularly relevant as the world's fulcrum shifts east", he said it is crucial for global institutions to reflect the legitimate desires and viewpoints of countries that had no say in the legal and security systems set up by victors of World War II.
"This is why we welcome China's initiative in creating the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank," added Mr Najib.
$10b port planned in Malacca
BEIJING • Malaysia is building a RM30 billion (S$10 billion) deepwater port in Malacca with help from Chinese companies, in yet another major Chinese project in the country.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is on a week-long visit to China, said in an opinion piece published in the China Daily paper yesterday that the new port will join other upcoming China projects in Malaysia.
The article was titled Fruits Harvested From Seeds Of Trust.
"Joint ventures with Chinese companies have already led to the Qinzhou Industrial Park in Guangxi, and the Kuantan Industrial Park, creating new jobs and opportunities for our peoples," he wrote.
"Now we have the deepwater port at Melaka (Malacca)... Plans for the futuristic underground metropolis of Bandar Malaysia... have been unveiled. And we are delighted that Malaysia has been chosen to host Xiamen University Malaysia, the first overseas branch of any public Chinese university."
Xinhua news agency reported last week that the Malacca port would cost RM30 billion and have storage facilities for liquid cargo including petroleum, chemical products and vegetable oil. Malaysia has three large ports in the Strait of Malacca - Penang Port, Port Klang and Johor's Port of Tanjung Pelepas.
The Kuantan Industrial Park in Datuk Seri Najib's home state of Pahang is being built jointly with partners from China. China Railway Engineering Corp last year bought a joint stake in the Bandar Malaysia township for RM12.4 billion. And Edra Global Energy was last year sold to China General Nuclear Power Corp for RM17 billion. Also, Xiamen University's campus in Sepang took in its first batch of students this year.
On their overlapping claims in the South China Sea, he said both sides believe the dispute "should be managed calmly and rationally through dialogue, in accordance with the rule of law and peaceful negotiations". The other claimants are the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan.
Mr Najib, who is scheduled to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping today after meeting Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday, said bilateral ties are set to hit new highs through 14 cooperation pacts, in areas such as education, trade and energy, worth RM144 billion (S$47.8 billion).
The most eye-catching was the first significant defence deal involving the sale of four Chinese-made Littoral Mission Ships - fast patrol vessels that can carry missiles and which reportedly cost around RM300 million each.
Mr Najib also appeared to liken himself to his father and former premier Tun Abdul Razak in forging a new type of relationship with China.
Recounting how his father's 1974 visit to China led Malaysia to become the first Asean state to establish diplomatic ties with China despite questions and criticisms, Mr Najib said the decision has been "validated" through growing economic relations and close political exchanges at the highest levels.
The Malaysian leader arrived in China on Monday for a six-day visit, his third to the country since becoming prime minister in 2009.
In Washington, US State Department spokesman John Kirby, when asked whether the Sino-Malaysian defence deal was bad news for the United States' Asia pivot, said there was no evidence of a "landslide" in the region from the US.
He also said it is not a zero-sum game where countries have to pick between the two powers.
"We have nothing to fear from the peaceful, productive rise of China, and we have nothing to fear from nations establishing better and warmer and more productive relationships with China," Mr Kirby added.
Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein reportedly said yesterday that Malaysia does not care how the US views the deal. He was quoted by the Sin Chew Daily as saying that Malaysia would consider a deal with the US if the latter provides a better offer than China.
•Additional reporting by Shannon Teoh in Kuala Lumpur