Despite diplomatic friction, Johor govt says still keen on Chinese consulate in state

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Johor Unity, Trade and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Dr Chong Fat Full said the state government is confident that a Chinese Consulate-General’s office can be established in the state capital. — Picture by Ben Tan
Johor Unity, Trade and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Dr Chong Fat Full said the state government is confident that a Chinese Consulate-General’s office can be established in the state capital. — Picture by Ben Tan

JOHOR BARU, Oct 11 — The Johor government is confident that a Chinese Consulate-General’s office can be established in the state capital here following a proposal by Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar.

Johor Unity, Trade and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Dr Chong Fat Full said the state government has also initiated discussions with the Foreign Ministry to follow up on the proposal’s progress.

He said such a proposal of the state hosting a Chinese Consulate General’s office here is timely and will boost the trade sector as well as strengthening bilateral ties between Johor and China.

“In fact, the existence of the consular office will also play a role in promoting other sectors such as tourism and culture between the state and both countries,” said Dr Chong in a statement issued here.

Dr Chong added that the state government was highly committed to support the proposal to set up the consular office here following the wishes and recommendations by the Sultan of Johor on the matter.

He said that on February 2, Chinese ambassador to Malaysia Ouyang Yujing said that the Chinese government is also looking into Sultan Ibrahim’s proposal.

In 2018, Sultan Ibrahim had proposed the establishment of a Chinese Consulate General’s office here to further strengthen the long-established bilateral relations between Johor and China.

The proposal was also welcomed by then Chinese ambassador to Malaysia Bai Tian during a courtesy call on the state ruler’s residence at Istana Pasir Pelangi.

It was reported at that time that Sultan Ibrahim said since Johor was the main focus for Chinese tourists, a consular office in the state capital would make it easier for their citizens.

Today’s statement came a week after Malaysia summoned Ouyang in protest after Chinese vessels entered the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the disputed South China Sea.

Malaysia had conveyed its position and protested against the presence and activities of Chinese vessels, including a survey vessel, in the EEZ.

This was hours after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said that Malaysia will not compromise with any country if there is a threat in the South China Sea.

Last week was the second time this year that Malaysia has summoned China’s envoy to protest against the republic’s activity within the disputed waters.

In June, Malaysia had sent fighter jets to intercept 16 Chinese military aircraft that appeared off East Malaysia over the South China Sea, where it has overlapping territorial claims with China.

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