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People-to-people Diplomacy between China and Malaysia – From Good to Better

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People-to-people Diplomacy between China and Malaysia – From Good to Better China News


 
China-Malaysia people-to-people diplomacy
People-to-people diplomacy has played an ineffaceable role in promoting the relations between China and Malaysia. Prior to the establishment of official diplomatic relations, the exchanges between Malaysian Chinese and the Chinese business community have laid the foundation for the formal establishment of diplomatic relations between these two countries. After the establishment of diplomatic ties, the non-governmental exchanges between the two countries have become increasingly frequent. The interactions in the field of business, education and cultural circles have made important contributions to the deepening of bilateral relations. Among them, one of the most prominent examples is Professor Wu Zongyu from Beijing Foreign Studies University(BFSU) in China. Thanks to his profound understanding of Malaysian society and the basic national conditions, Professor Wu Zongyu has established good relations with both Malays and Chinese in Malaysia. He has successfully deepened the friendship between the two peoples through private channels, which can be regarded as a model of nongovernmental contact. Through his contacts with the political, business and educational communities in Malaysia, the development of Chinese Malay has gradually gained support from the Malaysian government, universities and enterprises. In 1996, the Chinese Ministry of Education and the Malaysian Ministry of Education established the Chinese Malay Language Teaching and Research Center in BFSU. Due to the influence and efforts of BFSU in Malaysia, the Malaysian government has set up the only Malay Senior Visiting Scholar in China, and has been stationed experts all the year round. This scholar's seat has only been provided four seats all over the world, and BFSU is now one of them. In May 1996, BFSU and the Malaysian National Languages Bureau jointly hosted the "1996 Beijing Malay International Seminar", where more than 200 scholars from 13 countries attended. In May 2014, BFSU held another Malay International Seminar, attracting more than 200 scholars from China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. At that meeting, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib praised Professor Wu Zongyu's contribution to promoting China-Malaysia's civil relations in his speech and hoped that such a form would continue to be inherited and carried forward.
In addition, the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, the China Entrepreneurs Association in Malaysia(PUCM), Malaysian Chinese and other organizations or individuals have improved friendly relations with the people from the other country via private channels and played their own strength for the development of civil diplomacy between the two countries.
 
From Good to Better - Helping China-Malaysia
The key to sound relations between states lies in the affinity between their people, which largely stems from mutual understanding. Since President Xi Jinping took office, Chinese diplomacy has attached great importance to dealings with neighboring countries, especially the people. Under the official advocacy, civil diplomacy needs to be further emphasized and strengthened. Although the development of China-Malaysia relations is getting better and better, and there are many achievements in private diplomatic channels, there are still many areas for improvement. To make the relationship between China and Malaysia move from good to better, and to further enhance from the private diplomatic channels require the joint efforts of both sides. 
At present, there are main problems in the non-governmental exchanges between China and Malaysia as follow. First, the objects of interaction now are narrow and not broad enough. Despite the frequent exchanges emerge between China and Malaysia, the current exchanges are still concentrated in the macroscopic fields of politics and economy, focusing on the interaction with the elites from each field. The topics of exchanges are also the same as those of the government stage. They lack communication with the public, which are not that "grounded." Second, there are few areas of communication that need to be broadened. When Chinese private enterprises interact with Malaysia, they often exert their strengths in infrastructure construction, economic and trade fields, while are often absent in the fields of soft power such as media, culture and education. This has led local people to see only Chinese products, but they do not feel the Chinese spirit and strength. Third, lack of understanding can easily lead to contradictions. Chinese non-official groups often lack understanding of Malaysia's national conditions when interacting with Malaysian people, causing misunderstandings in the process of communication, which has caused certain confusion and suspicions over time.
In this regard, Chinese folks need to pay attention to ways and means when dealing with Malaysians. First of all, we must deepen our understanding of each other's national conditions and respect each other's traditions and culture. In the process of exchanges, Chinese folks need to pay attention to abandoning the upstart mentality, abandoning the local tyrant style, but interacting with local people or enterprises on the principle of adapting to local conditions instead. Second, we must broaden the field of communication. The exchanges between China and Malaysia need to be separated from the traditional thinking of exchanges that only in the fields of politics and economics, and pay more attention to the ordinary people and the people's livelihood, while concerning the fields of education, medical care and poverty alleviation. It is necessary to use a "down-to-earth" approach to make friends with local people and win respect and affection. At the same time, Chinese influence can also be brought to Malaysian society through non-governmental organizations such as public welfare and religious groups. Third, Chinese companies need to learn from other foreign companies such as Japan that operate very well in Malaysia and strengthen corporate image building. These companies need deal with Malaysian society, especially the Malays, and enhance mutual trust. Fourth, we must use the concept of China's Internet plus to strengthen links with the Malaysian people through the Internet. By sharing culture, spreading Chinese values and Chinese technology, China's image can therefore be well shaped.
 
Sincerity makes lifetime friends. As an integral part of China's diplomacy, people-to-people diplomacy has made tremendous contributions to the deepening of China-Malaysia relations. Standing at the historical node of the establishment of new Malaysian government, China needs to improve some of the problems that have arisen in the non-governmental relations with Malaysia, and push the relationship between the two countries from good to better with a more positive attitude, a more comprehensive vision, and a more grounded approach.


中马民间外交——从好到更好

孔金磊 北京大学国际关系学院博士生
1974年建交以来,中马关系已走过40余个年头。两国经历过建交初期的猜疑,跨越过建交后的平淡,再到冰释前嫌携手同行。中马关系在两国政府的主导下,正在向着更亲密、更无间的战略伙伴关系蓬勃发展。在官方积极引导的背后,中马两国人民之间的交往也为两国关系的日益密切贡献了许多力量,成为了愈发重要的助推力。
 
民间外交其意
民间外交的概念最早来自于中国。早在春秋时期,便有弦高送牛使本国免受侵略的故事流传,成为“民间外交”最早的雏形。在新中国成立后,面对帝国主义对中国的封锁,中国领导人开创了全新的外交形式——在以官方外交为主体的情况下,重视非官方和民间外交路线,与各国建立友好的外交关系。在此路线的指导下,新中国逐渐突破西方国家封锁,与众多国家建立了友好的关系。这一路线也通过历代领导人继承了下来,使“民间外交”成为了中国家喻户晓的名词和概念。
随着时代的发展和国际局势的变化,如今民间外交被赋予了更多的内涵和意义。根据学界的观点,民间外交可大致归纳为“由非官方的机构、组织和个人所从事的对外交往活动;其交往的对象主要是外国的非官方机构、组织和个人;其活动配合官方外交的发展,或符合官方外交的趋势,促进人民之间的友谊、理解与合作,为赢得国际民心民意的支持;通过参与全球治理促进世界的和平与发展。”与官方外交不同,民间外交通常具有风险性低、灵活性强、参与性广、稳定性高等鲜明的特点。一方面,可以有效地规避政治敏感,以更灵活地方式实现国家的战略目标,解决政府难题;另一方面,可以通过可操作形式去探求一国外交政策的可行性,避免决策失误,充当“智库”的角色。通过这种“润物细无声”的方式,民间外交能帮助两国扩大信任,加强各领域的合作,实现两国关系的稳步发展。
 
中马民间外交情况
民间外交在促进中马两国关系的进程中发挥了不可磨灭的作用。建交之前,马来西亚华人与中国商界的交往为两国正式建交奠定了基础。建交之后,两国民间往来日益频繁,商界、教育界、文化界多有交流,为两国关系的不断深化做出了重要贡献。其中,比较突出的一个例子便是中国北京外国语大学马来语专业的吴宗玉教授。由于深谙马来西亚社会相处之道与基本国情,吴宗玉教授和马来西亚马来族、华人等都建立了良好的联系,成功地从民间渠道加深了两国人民之间的友谊,可视为两国民间往来的典范。通过他与马来西亚政界、商界和教育界的交往,中国马来语的发展逐渐得到了来自马来西亚政府、高校和企业的支持。1996年中国教育部和马来西亚教育部在北外设立中国马来语教学研究中心。由于北外马来语专业在马来西亚的影响和努力,马来西亚政府更是在北外设立了中国唯一一个马来高级访问学者席,常年派驻专家。此学者席在全球仅有四席,北外就是其中之一。19965月,北外与马来西亚国家语文局联合承办“1996北京马来语国际研讨会”。共有来自13个国家的200多位学者出席,盛况空前。20145月,北外再次举办马来语国际研讨会,吸引了200多名来自中国、马来西亚、印度尼西亚以及新加坡等国的学者参与。在大会上,时任马来西亚总理纳吉在致辞中赞扬了吴宗玉教授为推进中马民间关系作出的贡献,并希望这样的形式继续得到继承和发扬。
除此之外,中国人民对外友好协会、马中企业家联合会、马来西亚华人等组织均从民间渠道与对方国家人民建立了友好的关系,为两国民间外交的发展发挥了自己的力量。
 
从好到更好-助力中马关系
国之交在于民相亲,民相亲在于心相通。自习近平主席上台后,中国外交便非常重视与邻国,特别是与民众之间的往来。在官方的倡导下,民间外交需要得到进一步的重视和加强。虽然中马关系大方向上发展的越来越好,民间外交渠道也多有建树,但仍有许多可待改善的地方。如何让两国关系从好走向更好,如何从民间外交渠道进一步提升需要双方的共同努力。
目前,中马民间交往主要存在以下几个问题。第一,交往对象面窄,不够宽泛。尽管中国与马来西亚民间往来频繁,但目前往来仍多集中于政治、经济等宏观领域,侧重于与对方各领域精英阶层的交往。双方交流的议题也多与政府层面相同,缺少了与社会大众的交流,不够“接地气”。其次,交往领域少,有待拓宽。中国民间企业与马来西亚交往时多在基础设施建设、经贸等领域发力,在媒体、文化、教育等软实力领域方面却常常缺位。这导致当地人民只看得见中国产品,却感受不到中国精神和力量。第三,缺乏了解,容易造成矛盾。中国非官方群体在与马来西亚民间交流时常常缺乏对马来西亚国情的了解,造成了交往过程中常常出现误解的局面,久而久之引起了一定的误解与猜忌。
对此,中国民间在与马来西亚交往时需要注意方式方法。首先,要加深对对方国情的了解,尊重对方传统和文化。在交往过程中,中国民间人士需要注意摒弃暴发户心态,抛弃土豪式作风,以因地制宜的原则与当地人民或企业交往。其次,要拓宽交流领域。中马交流需要从只在政经等高大上的领域交流的传统思维中跳脱出来,关注到民生,重视到普通民众,对教育、医疗、扶贫等领域加以重视。要用“接地气”的方式与当地人民做朋友,赢得尊重和好感。同时,可以通过非政府组织,如公益、宗教团体等形式,将中国影响力带到马来西亚社会中。第三,中国企业需要向日本等在马运营良好的企业学习,加强企业形象建设。这些企业多与马来西亚社会,尤其是马来人群体打交道,增进相互之间的信任。第四,要利用中国互联网+的理念,通过网络加强与马来西亚民众之间的联系。通过共享文化,传播中国价值观和中国技术,塑造中国形象。
 
两国之交,在民之心。以心相交,成其久远。作为中国外交的有机组成部分,民间外交为推动中马关系的深化做出了巨大贡献。站在马来西亚新政府成立的历史节点,中国需要改善与马来西亚民间交往中出现的一些问题,以更积极的姿态,更全面的眼光,和更接地气的方式推动两国关系从好向更好进阶。
 
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