Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will be making a six-day visit to Malaysia and Singapore from next Tuesday, where he will meet top leaders of both countries as well as attend the Asean-China foreign ministers' meeting.
Mr Wang's trip, which comes at a pivotal time both for Asean-China and China-Malaysia ties, is expected to lay the groundwork for high-level meetings later this year.
He will meet Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, as well as the foreign ministers of both countries, ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press briefing yesterday. Mr Wang will also call on President Halimah Yacob while in Singapore, he added.
The visit comes as Asean and China mark the 15th anniversary of the Asean-China strategic partnership this year, and both sides work on an agreement to chart the path for the next 15 years. The Asean-China Strategic Partnership Vision 2030 is to be adopted at the Asean-China Summit this year.
Mr Geng said Malaysia and Singapore are both important Asean members, and friendly neighbours and important partners of China.
He said cooperation between China and Asean has grown in the last 15 years, and called the relationship "the most successful and dynamic example in Asia-Pacific regional cooperation".
"China is willing to continue deepening cooperation with Asean, strengthen development planning, further pragmatic cooperation, and to together build a community of common destiny," he said.
Experts said what is also likely to top the agenda is the resumption of halted infrastructure projects, such as Malaysia's East Coast Rail Link.
Mr Wang's visit to Malaysia comes amid a flurry of trips by Chinese and Malaysian officials to renegotiate deals signed by Malaysia's previous administration. Close to RM100 billion (S$33.6 billion) in infrastructure spending contracted to Chinese state firms had stalled after Kuala Lumpur said it needed to rein in government liabilities.
Tun Dr Mahathir is expected to visit China next month, after a preparatory trip by Malaysia's Finance and Economic Affairs ministers.
"Assuaging certain worries that Malaysia may have and building mutual trust and understanding will be one of the chief goals for Mr Wang's visit this time," said Sino-Asean expert Xu Liping of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.