MALAYSIANS woke up last week to the unimaginable surprise that our country had forged a relationship of the highest level with China‎.

The move to strengthen ties with China — soon to become the largest economy in the world — with the inking of RM144 billion worth of deals was perceived by most Malaysians positively as an economic game changer.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has indicated his China’s visit was merely an expansion of and continuing the Look East policy mooted by his predecessor, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

As an ordinary citizen, I’m naturally concerned, especially when there is talk that the deals appear as if Malaysia is selling its sovereignty, but I’m certain of the government’s wisdom to know what is good for the country.

The relations between Malaysia and China are akin to abang-adik, hence, we should not just look at it in terms of economic gains, but also in terms of socio-cultural and people-to-people aspects as well.

Although the bilateral relations between the countries first blossomed in the 1970s with the far-sighted initiative of the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, Najib’s father, history had it that Malacca-China relations went back to the arrival of Admiral Zhang He to Malacca.

Even before this, there were expeditions by Chinese emissary, in light of Admiral Zhang He’s official expedition, as documented and written by Chinese historian Ma Huan.

The newfound relations between Malaysia and China can pave the way for more Chinese tourists to come to Malaysia.

If we can put things in better perspective historically, Malacca in particular can greatly interest Chinese tourists with its long history of relationship.

Our tourist guides, too, will be more confident in addressing pertinent questions in relation to Malacca’s history with China that dates back to the 14th century.

AZHARI MAHMOOD, Petaling Jaya, Selangor