KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 29 — The mutual waiver of visa requirements between Malaysia and China will have immense positive spillover effects on the bilateral relationship of the two countries in the long term.
Centre for New Inclusive Asia President Koh King Kee said not only economic and business cooperation will benefit hugely from the initiative, but it will also contribute towards building stronger political trust between the two countries and for their peoples to get to know each other better.
“The mutual waiver of visa requirements for visits by Malaysian and Chinese citizens on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and China is no doubt a new milestone on the bilateral relations between the two countries.
“It will definitely provide a much needed boost to Malaysia’s tourism industry, facilitate trade and investment, foster education and academic exchanges, thus enhancing people-to-people bond — the foundation of a strong and close bilateral tie,” he told Bernama.
China had on Nov 24 announced that it is granting Malaysian citizens a 15-day visa-free entry into the country for business, tourism, visiting relatives and friends and transit, beginning Dec 1, 2023 to Nov 30, 2024 to “help promote people to people exchanges, and serve high-quality development and high-level opening-up”.
However, those who do not meet the visa exemption requirements still need to obtain a visa before entering China.
In a reciprocal move, Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on Nov 26 announced that the government will grant a 30-day visa-free entry for citizens of China and India, also starting Dec 1, as part of the celebration of the 50-year strategic partnership between Malaysia and China next year.
He added that the visa exemption is subject to security screenings.
For over a decade, China has been Malaysia’s largest trading partner. In 2022, the total trade between Malaysia and China reached RM487.13 billion (US$110.62 billion), reflecting a 15.6 per cent increase from 2021.
China also emerged as the largest foreign direct investor in Malaysia for 2022, with investments amounting to RM55.4 billion (US$12.5 billion).