• A group of panelists at the Malaysia-China Commemorative Forum in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday discussed the deepening bilateral ties between China and Malaysia as the two countries mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations later this month. With the theme “Driving Future Bilateral Partnership between Malaysia and China”, the panel discussion brought together thought leaders and experts, including Member of the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, People’s Republic of China Nixie Lam; Social Economic Research Centre Executive Director Lee Heng Guie; and Chairman of the Malaysia-China Greater Bay Area Technology and Innovation Alliance Stephen Lai.
  • There are huge opportunities for Malaysia and China to enhance cooperation as the two countries celebrate this year’s 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, according to a senior Malaysian official. “In our nation-building journey for shared prosperity, we recognize China as a reliable friend and partner,” Malaysia's Deputy Minister of Energy Transition and Water Transformation Akmal Nasrullah Mohd Nasir told a forum in Kuala Lumpur on May 7. Akmal, who delivered the keynote address at the Malaysia-China Commemorative Forum as a representative of Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Fadillah Yusof, said the bilateral relationship is built on a time-honored history of mutual respect and collaboration. He noted the ample opportunities for both sides to consolidate and further expand the excellent bilateral ties. According to Akmal, the Malaysia Madani economic framework introduced in 2023 to promote inclusive and sustainable development shares the same common values and attributes of the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013. Noting that 2024 also marks the “Year of China-Malaysia Friendship”, Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Ouyang Yujing said the relations between the two countries are always at the forefront of China’s relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). On May 31, 1974, Malaysia became the first founding member of ASEAN to establish diplomatic relations with China. It was also among the first countries to join the Belt and Road Initiative. “In 1974, the China-Malaysia bilateral trade volume was less than $0.2 billion and last year’s figure surpassed $190 billion, which is 950 times more than that of 1974,” said Ouyang. He noted that China has been Malaysia’s biggest trading partner for 15 consecutive years while Malaysia remains China’s second-largest trading partner and largest source of imports in ASEAN. “I believe that both countries can continuously materialize these concepts for the benefit of its people,” said Akmal. The forum — themed “Malaysia and China: Celebrating 50 Years of Friendship and Cooperation, Towards a Better Future Together’ — was co-organized by China Daily, Kuala Lumpur-based think tank KSI Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific, and the Malaysia-China Business Council. It brought together government, business, academic, and think tank leaders to discuss how to deepen the bilateral partnership and the future of Asia. Nearly 300 delegates from both countries attended the forum to discuss a wide range of topics, from entrepreneurship to green growth and the digital economy. Bilateral relations were elevated in 2013 to a comprehensive strategic partnership. Last year President Xi and visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim reached a consensus on building a China-Malaysia community with a shared future. Ouyang noted that high-level leadership is the fundamental safeguard in fostering development in China-Malaysia relations. He added that comprehensive and practical cooperation is the driving force for upgrading bilateral relations in all fields. People-to-people bonds are the underlying force enabling enriched relations, said Ouyang, noting that the mutual visa-free entry policy since the end of last year has seen the number of Chinese tourists to Malaysia rise to over 270,000 per month. In his welcome speech, Zhou Li, deputy editor-in-chief of China Daily Group, said the tales of the legendary Chinese explorer Zheng He and his visits to Malacca are etched in the collective memory of China and Malaysia, symbolizing the deep-rooted exchanges. “Our steadfast cooperation, aligned with initiatives for global development, security, and civilization, assures that the fruits of China-Malaysia relations will continue to flourish for the betterment of our peoples,” said Zhou. Michael Yeoh, president of the KSI Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific, said the rise of the Chinese economy will benefit the countries of Southeast Asia and the Global South. “Bilateral relations will continue to strengthen and include new growth areas such as green energy and digital technology,” said Yeoh, noting that China has been Malaysia’s biggest trading partner. Goh Tian Chuan, exco-chairman of the Malaysia-China Business Council (MCBC), said the consensus on building a China-Malaysia community with a shared future has created new momentum for developing bilateral ties. Goh, whose speech was delivered by MCBC Executive Director Alvin Tee, said the council will continue to work with its partners in China and Malaysia to explore and promote higher and more diversified cooperation, making contributions to the economies and businesses of both countries. Melaka Governor Mohd Ali Rustam attended the forum and presented the Special Malaysia-China Business Excellence Awards.
  • The Malaysia-China Commemorative Forum opened on May 7 in Kuala Lumpur as the two countries will celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations later this month. Aiming to explore ways to enhance China-Malaysia relations, the forum brought together government, business, academic and think tank leaders, together with speakers — including Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Ouyang Yujing and Malaysia's Deputy Minister of Energy Transition and Water Transformation Akmal Nasrullah Mohd Nasir — to discuss how to deepen the bilateral partnership and the future of Asia. The forum is co-organized by China Daily, Kuala Lumpur-based think tank KSI Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific, and the Malaysia-China Business Council. Nearly 300 delegates from both countries attended the event. Melaka Governor Mohd Ali Rustam will attend the forum and present the Special Malaysia-China Business Excellence Awards. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations on May 31, 1974, China and Malaysia have witnessed important cooperation results in various fields, and bilateral relations have developed steadily. China has been Malaysia’s biggest trading partner for 15 years in a row and Malaysia is China’s second largest trading partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The two countries’ cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative has yielded fruitful results in infrastructure, digital economy, green development and new energy vehicles.
  • Panelists at the Malaysia-China Commemorative Forum in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday discussed ways and solutions to boost sustainability and economic development in the region. Themed "Working Together for Green Growth and Digital Economy", the discussion session brought together leaders and experts in various sectors from China and Malaysia, including President of the World Green Organisation Albert Oung, Secretary-General of SME Association of Malaysia Chin Chee Seong, and General Manager of BYD Asia Pacific Auto Sales Division Liu Xueliang.
  • Hong Kong's financial secretary said on Friday that the special administrative region government will promote the digital economy in the city through strengthening overall policy coordination, bolstering digital infrastructure, facilitating local and cross-boundary data flow, expediting digital transformation, and developing a sustainable technology talent strategy. Paul Chan Mo-po made the pledge at the Digital Economy Summit, which has gathered 4,000 Hong Kong, mainland and overseas technology professionals. The event, which ends on Saturday, was organized by the Innovation, Technology and Industry Bureau, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer and Hong Kong Cyberport. Chan said the Digital Policy Office will be established this year to formulate and implement effective digital policies. At the same time, the government will strengthen the development of digital infrastructure such as enhancing the use and coverage of 5G networks, further promoting electronic payments and rolling out the business version of “iAM Smart”. “Hong Kong is now building a supercomputing center that will serve the computing power needs of enterprises, academic and research institutions. The first phase of its service will be rolled out as soon as within this year,” said Chan. “On cross-boundary data flow, this is an area where Hong Kong enjoys unique advantages under the ‘one country, two systems’ arrangement. Hong Kong is where data from the mainland and around the world would converge. Hong Kong has long enjoyed unfettered access to international data while the city is making progress in cross-boundary flow of data with the mainland,” Chan argued. “We see clear potential for international data trading to become a new and thriving industry in the city. We have commissioned an expert group to study how best to develop a robust data-trading system in Hong Kong,” he added. Chan said local and cross-boundary data flow drives more public and private cross-boundary services, such as encouraging more research and development activities in artificial intelligence as well as life and health technologies in Hong Kong. In the business sector, the administration will extend the coverage of the Commercial Data Interchange run by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. This initiative had facilitated more than 13,000 loan applications with a total loan amount of around HK$12 billion ($1.53 billion) at the end of last year. The finance chief also noted the government will support and incentivize the city’s small- and medium-sized enterprises in adopting electronic options through providing necessary information and skills training. And it will continue to attract, retain and cultivate digital talent through enhancing education and training, and also work to enhance digital literacy and competency for the whole community. At the summit, Wang Song, vice-minister of the Cyberspace Administration of China, said: “As of last year, the number of internet users in the country has reached 1.092 billion, and the scale of the digital economy has exceeded 50 trillion yuan ($6.91 trillion), accounting for 41.5 percent of gross domestic product, with online retail sales of 15.42 trillion yuan, and mobile payment penetration rate reaching 86 percent.” The vice-minister recommended five strategies for developing the digital economy through promoting the integration of digital and real industries; accelerating the research and development application of big data, and artificial intelligence in industry, education, finance and other scenarios; leveraging Hong Kong’s niches as a top international talent hub; activating the value of the elements of data in cementing AI governance work; and strengthening talent training and exchanges.
  • The 48th Hong Kong International Film Festival is packed with firsts — from a tete-a-tete with Oscar-nominated director Martin McDonagh to a concert featuring music composed on the spot. Mathew Scott reports. The ongoing 48th edition of Hong Kong International Film Festival has certainly cast its net wide in curating a program that boasts more than 190 films from 62 countries and regions. The festival is hosting five world premieres, six international premieres and 64 Asian premieres across its 12-day run. From the outset, the festival’s ambition has been to cater to those interested in the craft of filmmaking. This year HKIFF’s ever-popular master classes featured the British-Irish multiple Oscar-nominee Martin McDonagh (The Banshees of Inisherin, 2022) and talks by the likes of veteran Spanish director Victor Erice (The Spirit of the Beehive, 1973). Albert Lee, executive director of the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society, which runs the annual HKIFF, is pleased to have engineered McDonagh’s maiden Hong Kong visit. “Over the past decade, I have talked to many Asian and Chinese filmmakers, and they all think very, very highly of Martin. I know a lot of people who are excited by the chance to see him and Erice. Both of them always have a lot to share about their films and also filmmaking in general. It’s a great chance for young filmmakers to learn from them,” Lee says. Weird and wonderful The festival opened with Ray Yeung’s All Shall Be Well (2024), a film about a lesbian couple in their 60s. It had won the Teddy Award for best LGBTQ-themed feature film at the 74th Berlin International Film Festival in February. Fruit Chan is this year’s filmmaker in focus, and the festival is screening 10 of his films, including Durian Durian (2000) and The Abortionist (2019). The eight films selected for the Firebird Awards’ Young Cinema Competition (Chinese Language) include three that focus on the lives of the Chinese diaspora — Kurt Yuen’s Fresh Off Markham (2024), A Song Sung Blue (2023) by Geng Zihan and Chong Keat-aun’s Snow in Midsummer (2020). Lee is keen to have the future generation of Hong Kong filmmakers check out the sometimes weird and generally wonderful world created by the French provocateur Jean Eustache. The festival is showing three of his feature films — A Dirty Story (1977), screened together with the short, The Photos of Alix (1980); My Little Loves (1974); and The Mother and the Whore (1973). Boost for emerging talents At the Hong Kong Filmart held in March — often regarded as an unofficial industry warmup for the HKIFF — the big news was that the local film and television industry would soon receive a HK$5 billion ($639 million) boost via a five-year Hong Kong Cultural and Art Industry Revitalization Program driven by the e-commerce and entertainment giant Alibaba. There was also encouragement for emerging filmmakers in the form of awards at the annual Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) program (see sidebar) and a new HKIFF Industry-CAA China Genre Initiative to promote the more commercially leaning works of Chinese cinema. “It all seems to be happening,” Lee says. “The industry has been very busy. We are working closely with the talent agency CAA China toward promoting genre films and that is a first for Hong Kong. We hope to encourage more Chinese-language filmmakers to become involved.” Instant music The Asian premiere of Gift — a unique live collaboration between Japanese Oscar-winner Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car, 2021) and his go-to composer Eiko Ishibashi, on March 30 — was a festival highlight. Ishibashi composes an extempore soundtrack during the show, as she responds to images cut from Hamaguchi’s Evil Does Not Exist (2023) — their most recent film together. “I don’t see these images before the concert, only react to them in the moment, and the audience can react to both things,” Ishibashi explains. She hopes that the experience can help broaden the horizons of the audience in terms of what constitutes a cinematic experience. “I like to explore new things, and new ways of presenting my work, and I think that is an important part of being featured at a film festival where you should always try something new,” Ishibashi says. The festival draws to a close on Monday, with Japanese director Shô Miyake’s achingly romantic All the Long Nights (2024) making its Asian premiere.
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