Dressed in vibrant clothing, a Malaysian woman showcases traditional Batik attire and handmade purses at the 16th China-ASEAN Expo, drawing a crowd of people eager to buy the exquisite handicrafts.

Batik, a dyeing technique where wax is applied to the portions of the cloth that will be left undyed, is a part of the rich tradition of Malaysia, said Nor Farahin Nazmi Binti Nor Azmi with an agency under Malaysia’s Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.

The craftwork has managed to combine traditional and contemporary forms, and the beauty and uniqueness portrays subtle touches of the Malaysian culture, according to Farahin, who was visiting China for the first time.

The 16th China-ASEAN Expo concluded Tuesday in Nanning, capital of south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

According to the organizers, 2,848 enterprises participated in the four-day event, up 2.4 percent from the event last year, including industry leaders, Fortune 500 companies and notable private businesses.

A total of 502 economic cooperation deals were signed at the event, of which 439 were international projects.

Over the past 16 years, the China-ASEAN Expo has captured the achievements jointly made by the two parties on enhancing business and investment cooperation and greatly bolstered cooperation on cultural exchanges, said Lao Deputy Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone.

“We are not only here to promote Batik dyeing and other handicrafts, but also to promote Malaysian culture,” Farahin said, adding that handcrafts are the living soul of Malaysian culture.

Echoing the sentiments of Farahin, Mary Jim, the founder of Mj by MUS, a platform that promotes the ethnic motif creations of Sabah, a state of Malaysia located on the northern portion of Borneo, aims to make more people recognize the value of Batik.

“Batik is the pride of our people in Borneo. Back in Sabah, we have 46 ethnic groups who have these kinds of motifs, so this is something we can promote as a form of fashion,” Jim said.

Apart from turning a profit, Jim also wants to help her fellow people, especially single mothers and youths who lack stable employment.

“Those in rural and remote areas have the talent, but don’t have the market access and job opportunities,” she added.

Jim founded Mj by MUS four years ago with a goal to help needy people by training and guiding them in production and helping them reach the market.

Informed by similar poverty-alleviation practices in China, Jim brought a variety of handicrafts including handmade clutch bags made of pandanus leaves and local Batik attire to the expo for the first time, hoping to tap into China’s huge market.

“I’d call this expo an eye-opening and amazing event because people are very supportive of our cause,” Jim said, adding that she would attend next year’s China-ASEAN Expo.

Hailing the expo as a good platform to display ethnic art and culture, Farahin said she hoped to bring more artisans to do business in China at the 2020 expo.

The 17th China-ASEAN Expo is scheduled for Sept. 18 to 21, 2020, with Laos as the Country of Honor, according to Wang Lei, secretary-general of the China-ASEAN Expo Secretariat.

Source: China ASEAN Business Council