Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: China turns to durian diplomacy to boost ties with Southeast Asia

It is probably the most controversial fruit in the world, and haters often complain that it smells just like rotten onion or stinky eggs. However, the durian, also known as the “king of fruit” to its fans, took centre stage in China’s latest charm offensive towards Southeast Asia as Beijing pledged to import more the fruit from its neighbours in an effort to cement its ties with the strategically important region amid its intensifying rivalry with the US. The fruit was given a special mention by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during his recent visit to Kuala Lumpur. “This morning, we had a working lunch together and my dear friend served me the maoshanwang cake, which is so delicious and I am so impressed,” Wang told a reporter at a joint press conference alongside his Malaysian counterpart Saifuddin Abdullah, referring to a cake made with a popular type of Malaysian durian. Wang also said China was “ready to import more palm oil, tropical fruit and other agricultural products” from Malaysia. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/china-turns-durian-diplomacy-boost-093000568.html) Later, in the southern Chinese city of Nanning, Wang was joined by Vietnam’s deputy prime minister Pham Binh Minh, where the two sides announced an agreement to allow Vietnam’s fresh durian to be exported to the Chinese market in the near future following nearly four years of negotiations.

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