Interview: Malaysia

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"It is also civilizational," he said, "it's a very unique kind of relations."

He noted that the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was a high profile area of cooperation between the two countries, adding that Malaysia is also keen on broader cooperation with China to learn from its progress.

"Between Malaysia and China, our relations go beyond political, bilateral and trade -- it is also civilizational," he said, "surely we can improve our ties and there are lots of common things that we can work on," he said.

"The relations between China and Malaysia, the diplomatic part of it is 45 years now, but the relations between the people of China and the people of Malaysia has been for hundreds of years, perhaps thousands of years," Saifuddin said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua on Thursday.

On May 31 this year, China and Malaysia marked the 45th anniversary of the diplomatic ties between the two countries. The celebration of the anniversary, the upcoming year 2020 as Malaysia-China Cultural Tourism Year as well as the party to party ties marked by a recent visit by a high level Communist Party of China (CPC) delegation to Malaysia, all augurs well for the relations between the two countries, he said.

He mentioned that when Malaysia was facing the problem in selling palm oil, the country's major commodities, to Europe, China added the volume of purchase of palm oil from Malaysia. "When some countries in the West go against Huawei, Malaysia reciprocated by saying 'No, we will continue using Huawei'," he said.

Witnessing China's great progress over the years, Saifuddin said he was most impressed by "the advancements in digital or innovation economy," citing Huawei which has probably the most advanced technology in its area, making a lot of headways around the globe "to the extent that some countries don't like Huawei."

"Alibaba is another extremely impressive organization," he said. "What is unique is the ability of the Chinese people to learn very quickly the new technologies and to be able to apply them."

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia, June 14 (Xinhua) -- The relationship between Malaysia and China goes beyond common diplomatic ties and is set to grow stronger as it is built on a foundation of trust and understanding, said Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah.

Saifuddin said the longstanding relationship between the two was underlined by the fact that both countries supported each other in facing challenges, both in their bilateral relationship and beyond.

He cited the visit by Chinese navigator Zheng He to the then Malacca Sultanate in the 15th century.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said recently that his country will make full use of the technology made available by Huawei in spite of the U.S. ban on the Chinese tech giant.

By Yu Wei, Jonathan Edward

Pointing to the general election last year which brought the Pakatan Harapan government to power, Saifuddin said the understanding between the two countries helped facilitate smooth relations and resolve some issues.

"I think ties will be stronger. Malaysia wants to learn more from China, especially in new technologies, robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), even in agriculture, we are sending our people to learn from your research and development," he said.