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Visa centres in Nanning and Xi’an to woo back Chinese tourists

BOAO (China): Visa processing centres will be set up in Nanning and Xi’an to boost tourist arrival from the country after their numbers to Malaysia plunged last year.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said this was one of the efforts being taken to win back Chinese tourists.

“The Government is trying very hard to revive the numbers, which have declined by 9% last year due to the MH370 tragedy and the kidnapping cases in Sabah.

“We will open our consulates in Nanning and Xi’an this year and the Chinese can apply for tourist visas in these two cities,” he told the Malaysian media on Friday.

Another measure was the visa fee waiver implemented early this year, which exempted tourists from China from paying the 80 yuan (RM47.40) fee.

Najib, who was here for the Boao Forum for Asia 2015, said Malaysia also supported the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (MSR) in principle and was in the process of getting more details from China.

The concept was put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping in October 2013 to enhance maritime cooperation with neighbouring countries.

Malaysia, Najib said, had worked out an area of cooperation with China along the concept of the MSR, which was to establish a special linkage between Malaysia and the country’s southeast province of Guangdong.

The Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to China, Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting, and International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed are tasked with co-chairing the Malaysia-Guangdong Joint Committee for Trade and Investment that oversees its implementation.

“Guangdong is a major trading province with Malaysia. We are looking at enhancing economic relations between Guangdong and Malaysia and with Guangdong and Malacca as a subset.

“One of the proposal is to have direct flights between Malacca and Guangdong,” said Najib, who also thanked China for donating US$3.7mil (RM13.6mil) worth of aid when Malaysia suffered one of its worst floods.

Najib, who was received by Xi at the Boao State Guest House for a bilateral meeting and a dinner on Friday, said boosting economic ties was among the issues discussed.

“Xi is looking forward to the continued expansion of the bilateral trade, which is currently growing by 8% a year,” Najib said, adding that both countries would be holding their first joint military exercise as part of cooperation in the field of defence.

Xi, said Najib, was also satisfied with the progress in the construction of Xiamen University’s branch in Salak Tinggi, Sepang.

Ong, who was also present, said the working committee on the Malaysia-Guangdong trade would meet in April and its main committee in June.

Commenting on Najib’s visit to Boao, Ong said the Prime Minister was the only leader for whom Xi hosted a dinner on the eve of the forum, signifying the close relations between the two countries.

“This is their fourth meeting in the past 18 months since October 2013. From their interaction, which was very warm and friendly, we can see the friendship between Najib and Xi is getting stronger.

“Many important bilateral issues were discussed at length. Mutual understanding on cooperation in all major areas was achieved,” Ong added.-thestar

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