KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s decision to offer a 30-day visa-free entry to nationals from China and India from Dec 1 signifies the government’s commitment to strengthen bilateral ties with the two countries.
Industry players said the initiative, announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on Sunday, affirms the country’s openness to doing business and in attracting foreign investments, besides will further deepen the people-to-people ties through travel and tourism activities.
On a similar development, China, last Friday announced it is granting Malaysian citizens a 15-day visa-free entry into the country, beginning Dec 1 to “help promote people to people exchanges, and serve high-quality development and high-level opening-up”.
President of the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) Senator Tan Sri Low Kian Chuan said the initiative is timely as Malaysia and China are celebrating their 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations next year.
Low said ACCCIM, which has over 110,000 members, lauded these important initiatives by the two governments, as it would help to further facilitate business exchanges between Malaysian and Chinese business people.
“This is a great boost to the business people in Malaysia and China. ACCCIM have very close business relations with our partners in China.
“We travel frequently to China and likewise Chinese businessmen travel to Malaysia. This policy will certainly help heighten business and trade deals, while saving time and cost on visa application,” he told Bernama.
Low said the visa-free entry to Malaysia is also an advantage for ACCCIM which will host the 17th World Chinese Entrepreneurs Convention, here, next year.
China Entreprenuers Association in Malaysia (PUCM) President Datuk Keith Li said Malaysia was the only country in the region to be selected for the Chinese government’s visa-free policy, this showed the strong ties both countries enjoy.
“We have waited for this a long time. It is great news indeed for people of both sides,” he said.
He pointed out that during Anwar’s official visit to Beijing early this year, Malaysia received the highest investment commitment of RM170 billion from Chinese investors following the signing of 19 memoranda of understanding between Malaysian and Chinese companies.
He was confident that the visa-free entry for Chinese citizens into Malaysia will bolster Malaysia’s position as a preferred destination for Chinese investors and travellers.
Li said he has been receiving many messages from family and friends in China since yesterday to confirm the news.
“They were excited about this development. This news about visa-free entry to Malaysia is now top five most trending topics on Weibo. Many of my friends said they will take the opportunity to travel here,” he said.
Founder Chairman of the Consortium of Indian Industries in Malaysia (CIIM), an association of CEOs of Indian companies, Datuk Umang Sharma, in welcoming the decision, emphasised that this move would not only benefit tourism but also facilitate business travel on short notice.
Umang highlighted the potential for a mutually beneficial scenario for both countries, suggesting that an increase in the frequency of flights between major cities would further enhance the positive impact of this initiative.
“Additionally, Malaysia’s Tourism Board should promptly launch campaigns, incentives, and attractions to attract Indian tourists to Malaysia,” he told Bernama.
Umang further suggested that Malaysian hotels and the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) industry could create attractive packages for Indians, promoting them aggressively in India to capitalise on this initiative.
In making the annoucement, Anwar, who is also the Finance Minister, clarified that the visa exemption is contingent upon security screenings.
He said it was an additional facility to the existing visa exemptions currently enjoyed by citizens from Gulf countries and other West Asian nations, including Türkiye and Jordan.
The 30-day visa-free entry is also currently enjoyed by eight ASEAN countries for the purpose of social visits, tourism and business.
China’s Foreign Ministry on Nov 24 announced that the country is giving 15-day visa free entry for Malaysian nationals beginning Dec 1 until Nov 30, 2024.
Besides Malaysia, five other European countries namely France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain will also enjoy the waiver during the same period, according to Xinhua.
During the period, holders of ordinary passports may enter China visa-free for business, tourism, visiting relatives and friends and transit for no more than 15 days.
Those who don’t meet the visa exemption requirements however, still need to obtain a visa before entering China, the ministry said in the statement.–Bernama