Fighting COVID-19 shoulder to shoulder

Yu Hong, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Brunei Darussalam

The novel coronavirus pneumonia has brought unprecedented challenges to all human beings. Since the outbreak, China and Brunei have been supporting each other wholeheartedly and have set up a good example for countries to cooperate in response to the epidemic.

China is the first country that took painstaking efforts to fight against the COVID-19. Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, the Chinese government put people’s life and health in the first place and has taken the most comprehensive, the strictest and the most thorough prevention and control measures to battle the epidemic.

The central government, other provinces and the armed forces extended strong support to Wuhan and other parts of Hubei Province. With Wuhan City locked down for 76 days, people there pulled together with the people of the whole country and defeated the pandemic with a lot of sacrifices.

The Chinese government has always been adhering to the principle of openness, transparency and responsibility, timely reported outbreak and virus information, having won precious time for the world’s fight against the virus.

Late December 2019, the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Hubei Province detected cases of pneumonia of unknown cause.

On December 30, 2019, Wuhan Municipal Health Committee issued an “urgent notice on the treatment of pneumonia of unknown cause”.

Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Brunei Darussalam Yu Hong

Starting January 3, China has been regularly informing the World Health Organization (WHO), relevant countries and regions about the pneumonia outbreak. On January 12, the information on the genome sequence of the novel coronavirus was shared with WHO and shared globally.

At the difficult time when China was combatting the epidemic, Brunei provided its sincere support to China.

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam sent messages to Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang expressing support and sympathy.

The royal family and the Government of Brunei spoke highly of the measures taken by the Chinese Government, and the Bruneian Government made a donation of fund to China. Bruneian people also expressed support and donated fund and supplies to China. Bruneian students and tourism agencies recorded short videos to express their support.

Since the outbreak, the Brunei government has paid close attention to the situation, timely adopted and adjusted restriction measures, developed emergency plans and prepared testing kits and materials needed.

In early March, Brunei reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19. Under the leadership of His Majesty, the Government of Brunei has taken measures promptly to effectively contain the outbreak.

A virology laboratory was set up quickly and the expansion of the isolation centre with facilities was also completed in only a few weeks. With the support from all sectors in Brunei, the epidemic prevention work has achieved remarkable results in a short time.

China empathises with the epidemic challenges faced by Brunei.

The Chinese Government donated epidemic prevention materials to the Government of Brunei, and the Chinese Embassy in Brunei donated to Brunei COVID-19 Relief Fund. The Government of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Chinese partner of the Guangxi-Brunei Economic Corridor, donated medical supplies to the Ministry of Finance and Economy of Brunei.

The Nanjing Municipal Government, the only sister city of Bandar Seri Begawan, donated medical supplies to the Ministry of Home Affairs of Brunei.

Shenzhen Mammoth Public Welfare Foundation donated nucleic acid testing reagent. The Chinese Embassy and the Chinese enterprises in Brunei have provided strong support to Brunei in its efforts of medical procurement in China. The Chinese intangible cultural heritage practitioners and students recorded a short video to pray for the people of Brunei.

Affected by the epidemic, many Chinese companies though facing various difficulties, still actively supported Brunei to combat COVID-19. The Chinese companies or Chinese companies in Brunei, including Zhejiang Hengyi Group Co Ltd Huawei Technologies (B) Sdn Bhd, Guangxi Beibu Gulf International Port Group Company Ltd, China State Construction Engineering Corporation, Nanjing Chemical Construction Co Ltd, Yidu Cloud (Beijing) Technology Co Ltd, Guangxi Ruian Logistic (Group) Co Limited, The Brunei Branch of Bank of China, Muara Port Company Sdn Bhd, Pure Fresh (B) Sdn Bhd, HLD (B) Steel Sdn Bhd, China-Arab States Youth Entrepreneurship Park and Amann Shipping Group Sdn Bhd, donated anti-epidemic materials and fund to Brunei government.

Sinotrans (B) Sdn Bhd provided free logistics services for the donated materials. Muara Port Company Sdn Bhd waived port charges of all cargo relating to medical supplies and equipment to combat the outbreak.

According to incomplete statistics, the donations from Chinese companies are worth more than USD1.3 million in total.

During the fight against the epidemic, the cooperation between China and Brunei in medical care has been greatly strengthened. China shared its anti-epidemic experience with Brunei without reservation. Chinese company BGI supplied testing kits to Brunei Government in January, and provided technical support in setting up Southeast Asia’s first Fireeye virology laboratory, which greatly increased the testing capability.

At the request of the Brunei Government, Chinese company Yiduyun sent its programmers to Brunei and helped Brunei to establish a big data platform for epidemic prevention and control while working closely with its Beijing team.

To coordinate pushing forward the epidemic prevention and control and economic and social development is the primary task by both China and Brunei.

After Chinese President Xi Jinping’s successful State Visit to Brunei in 2018, the cooperation continues to develop within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. Hengyi’s oil refinery and petrochemical project at Pulau Muara Besar (PMB), the largest joint venture between China and Brunei, announced its successful production of qualified petrochemical products at the end of last year, which will accelerate Brunei’s economical diversification. The longest bridge across the sea in Southeast Asia co-built by China State Construction Engineering Corporation, was open to public use in urgent situation during the outbreak. A Chinese company is assisting SMEs in food sector in Brunei to develop new markets.

As neighbours of the same kampong, China and Brunei have a tradition of helping and supporting each other in times of difficulty. Solidarity and cooperation are the most powerful weapons to defeat the epidemic, no matter it is in a kampong or in the global village. Only by upholding the vision of a community of shared future for mankind can we address the common challenges faced by mankind. I firmly believe that the bilateral relations between China and Brunei, which have stood the test of the epidemic, will thrive.