| 26 February 2024, Monday |

Malaysia invites China’s Xi to visit, ramps up tourism target

As part of its efforts to spur economic growth, Malaysia has sent an invitation to China’s President Xi Jingping to pay a visit, the Southeast Asian nation’s envoy to Beijing announced on Friday.

The two countries will celebrate their bilateral diplomatic relations’ 50th anniversary next year. In a move that is similar to Thailand’s, Malaysia recently declared that visitors from China will be granted a 30-day visa-free stay.

Government data showed Malaysia welcomed 498,540 Chinese tourists in the six months to June this year, a figure almost a third of pre-pandemic levels. In comparison, Thailand said it expected 3.4-3.5 million visitors from China this year.

“We see that we have a big capacity to receive tourists,” Ambassador Norman Muhamad said at an event at the Malaysian embassy in Beijing, adding that the goal is not “far-fetched” even if it may take more than a couple of years to achieve.

“Since we are seeking more investment from China, this visa-free travel to Malaysia will also help Chinese investors to come to Malaysia to find opportunities,” he added.

Malaysia’s economic growth is expected to meet the government’s target of 4% this year, driven in part by stronger tourism.

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has also invited China’s President Xi Jinping to visit the country, Norman said.

“We are hoping that President Xi will consent to visiting Malaysia,” he added.

Earlier this week, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi was seen holding hands with his Malaysian counterpart Zambry Abdul Kadir in New York, photos released by the Chinese foreign ministry show.

  • Reuters