KUALA LUMPUR, Oct. 2 -- Malaysia is looking forward to Chinese President Xi Jinping's upcoming state visit, which will herald a new direction for China-Malaysia relations, Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman has said.
Xi will visit Malaysia from Thursday to Saturday, during his first trip to Southeast Asia since he assumed presidency in March.
"President Xi Jinping and Malaysian leaders are expected to provide a clear indication on the direction of bilateral relations for the next five to ten years, which Malaysia believes will usher in new and exciting times for Malaysia-China relations," Anifah said in a recent interview with Xinhua.
Anifah said the visit would provide an excellent opportunity for leaders of the two countries to exchange views on bilateral, regional and international issues of common concern.
He added that the trip would enable Xi to establish better rapport and closer personal contact with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and other leaders.
"The fact that President Xi Jinping has chosen to visit Malaysia less than a year after he officially assumed office is a testament to the existing excellent bilateral relations, and reflects China's deep commitment to further strengthening the close ties with Malaysia during his presidency," Anifah said.
Bilateral relations have been "warm and friendly" since Malaysia became the first member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to forge diplomatic ties with China in 1974, the foreign minister said.
He said Malaysia-China relations are currently "excellent" with substantial progress made in cooperation in economy, finance, education, tourism, culture, health, trade and investment.
Anifah said bilateral relations are further characterized by good personal rapport between political and business leaders, as well as regular exchange of visits at all levels.
"Such visits have contributed to the consolidation of the friendly bonds between the two countries and have helped build personal rapport and increase understanding between the leaders of both sides," he said.
Anifah spoke highly of China's remarkable success in becoming a strong nation of trade and industry since the reform and opening-up policy was adopted more than three decades ago.
He said China's economic growth in the past decade has benefited Malaysia and the region as a whole, which is evident in the multifold increase in bilateral trade and investment between China and Malaysia.
Bilateral trade between the two increased ten times from less than 10 billion U.S. dollars in 2002 to 94.8 billion dollars in 2012, around a quarter of the trade volume between China and the ASEAN, Anifah said.
With a 14.9 percent growth in the first seven months of 2013, China-Malaysia trade is expected to reach 100 billion dollars this year, he said.
On regional issues, Anifah said Malaysia considers China as a true friend and partner, and both countries share similar aspirations and objectives.
It is important that Malaysia and China have win-win cooperation at all levels in various fields to realize peace and prosperity in the two countries and the region, Anifah said.