丹姑Zafrul Aziz 联昌国际银行集团（CIMB）首席执行长
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good afternoon. Xie xie for having us here today.
Truly, it is an honor to be here this afternoon. Personally, I find a sense of wonder being within the halls of academia again, what more in the company of great minds and in one of China’s most renowned academic institutions.
As I look back at my days at University, I am humbled by two facts: that while much has been learned since then, there is a constant need to learn, unlearn and re-learn.
Secondly, the world has changed much over the last two decades and we currently stand today at an exciting point in our history.
No doubt, there is a lot happening right now – from the recent political outcome in France to the improving outlook for the global economy – but for Asia, the theme set to anchor the region’s future growth is China’s most ambitious economic programme, namely the Belt and Road Initiative, and China’s strengthening relations with its neighbors, including Malaysia.
Allow me to briefly touch on both themes this morning.
Ladies and gentlemen, The Belt and Road Initiative is arguably the most ambitious economic and diplomacy program since the founding of the Chinese Republic. It is an attempt to tie, by land and sea, China with greater Asia, Europe as well asparts of the middle East and Africa. In terms of scale, it will be huge: covering nearly 65% of the world’s population, one third of the world’s GDP and 25% of all goods and services consumed.
But the scale is just the tip of the iceberg. In my opinion, what is profound about the Initiative is that it is an opportunity to create vital infrastructure that connects and further empowers trade. According to the Asian Development Bank, Asia alone needs about $770 billion a year until 2020 in new infrastructure. Belt and Road projects such as a gas pipeline from the Bay of Bengal through Myanmar to South-west China, or a raillink between Beijing to Germany, might just be the catalyst to address this need.
And in doing so, the project achieves something equally profound, in that it challenges the notion of Europe and Asia existing as different trading blocs. For those reasons, I am tremendously excited for the Belt and Road initiative.
Embarking on a project of this scale will demand not just economic firepower, but also diplomacy and cooperation. And China and Malaysia have forged strong relations in those areas. While diplomatic relations between the two countries officially began in 1974, I would like to remind us that the relationship between our two countries actually started much earlier, dating back to the 3rd Century BC, when Chinese traders made contact with Kunlun or Malay sailors along the Malacca straits.
Today, in the 21st Century,China-Malaysia relations have never been stronger and this is reflected in the strong economic partnership we share. Bilateral trade between the two countries is expected to hit $100 billion this year and both sides are constantly finding new areas of collaboration from film making to infrastructure. Most recently, we added eCommerce to the list with the launch of the world’s first Digital Free Trade Zone in concert with the Alibaba Group.
All these are a reminder that opportunities for prosperity are plenty but they can only be achieved through mutual cooperation. I believe that mutual respect between one another is equally important to ensure sustainable bilateral relations and one that truly benefits the people of both countries.
Which is why we are here today. In the next few months, I look forward to having the best minds from the region learn from each other, foster meaningful cooperative relationships to find new ways to give back and prosper together. I hope to especially create lasting friendships, especially from a group as rich and diverse as this region we call home.
With that, I would like to end by expressing my deepest appreciation to the university for having us and may we have a productive few days ahead.