Brunei’s bilateral trade volume with China stood at $2.48 billion (US$1.83 billion) from January to August this year, marking an increase of 43.2 per cent year on year.

Speaking at the virtual reception to commemorate the 72nd Founding of China and 30th Establishment of the Diplomatic Relations between Brunei and China, the Chinese ambassador said that China is the biggest source of foreign direct investment for the sultanate in recent years and that China is the country’s third largest trading partner.

Image: Shutterstock

“Hengyi Industries has extended Brunei’s downstream oil and gas industrial chain and become a new engine boosting local employment and spurring economic growth,” said Yu Hong, adding that trade and economic exchanges between both countries have been outstanding.

The ambassador further noted that the Brunei-Guangxi Economic Corridor (BGEC) is a major economic cooperation platform for the countries.

Image: Analisa Amu

In terms of infrastructure and connectivity in the country, several Chinese businesses have played an important role in the construction of bridges, highways, dam and projects.

Not only that, but bilateral cooperation in civil aviation, healthcare, culture, tourism, sports, education, judiciary and other areas have been deepened continuously, added Hong.

“China and Brunei have worked hand in hand for 30 years. The remarkable achievements in the development of bilateral relations should be ascribed to guidance and personal care of both state leaders, to the joint efforts of both governments, and to the participation of all walks of life of both countries and the support of our peoples,” said the ambassador.

Image: Analisa Amu

For COVID-19 assistance, the republic has contributed some 152,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines in September to help accelerate the sultanate’s inoculation programme, targeting 80 per cent herd immunity by year end.

Since the onslaught of the pandemic, Hong said, the support and sympathy from the Bruneian government, royal family, people and social organisations to the Chinese government and its people has greatly boosted the confidence of the Chinese people in overcoming the difficulties.

Image: Shutterstock

“The Chinese central government, local governments, armed forces, businesses, and the Chinese Embassy in Brunei came forward with anti-pandemic supplies and funds for Brunei,” continued the ambassador.

Moreover, the Brunei COVID-19 AirLab which has a Biological Safety Level 2 was China’s recent investment to the sultanate; a collaborative effort between the government and Beijing Genomic Institution (BGI) that began operations on 19 August 2021.

Looking back at the diplomatic relations between China and Brunei, the countries’ relations were upgraded to a strategic partnership of cooperation when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the sultanate in 2018.

“A number of Chinese state leaders have visited Brunei Darussalam, and His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei Darussalam has visited China for international conferences for 12 times,” said Hong.

A view of Pulau Muara Besar. Image: The Bruneian

Furthermore, Brunei and China promote all-round cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative and established a Joint Steering Committee between both governments.

Hong further said that China is supportive of Brunei in assuming ASEAN Chairmanship while looking forward to work the sultanate to further promote China-ASEAN relations and East Asian cooperation for bigger contributions to the regional peace, stability and prosperity.

Image: Yusri Adanan

In 2020, China was the world’s only major economy to have registered growth in foreign trade in goods and has become the largest trading partner of more than 120 countries and regions.

In the first half of 2021, the GDP of China increased 12.7 per cent year on year, and the average two-year growth was 5.3 per cent.

The virtual reception was graced by Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

This article was first published on 1 October 2021 in our Weekly E-Paper issue 161

THE BRUNEIAN | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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