China, Brunei defence ties grow stronger

James Kon

Numerous past exchanges, cooperation and mutual help have enhanced the friendly relations between Brunei Darussalam and the People’s Republic of China, as well as their militaries.

This was underscored by People’s Republic of China Defence Attaché to Brunei Darussalam Senior Colonel Li Jianzhong, in his message celebrating the 93rd anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China, which is today (August 1).

“Brunei Darussalam and the People’s Republic of China have enjoyed more than 2,000 years of exchanges and traditional friendship, and are good neighbours facing each other across the sea,” he said.

Senior Colonel Li also noted, “In 2018, Chinese President Xi Jinping successfully made a state visit to Brunei and the bilateral relations were upgraded to Strategic Cooperative Partnership.

“During the most difficult period of times when the epidemic broke out in 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 letters to President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, and the Government of Brunei Darussalam donated to the Hubei Charity Federation.

“With the outbreak of the epidemic in Brunei, the Chinese central government, local governments and Chinese enterprises in China and Brunei donated funds or medical supplies to Brunei, contributing to Brunei’s efforts to protect the people’s health and lives.

People’s Republic of China Defence Attaché to Brunei Darussalam Senior Colonel Li Jianzhong. PHOTO: JAMES KON

“Meanwhile, the Ministry of National Defence of China and the Ministry of Defence of Brunei, the PLA and the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF), also enjoy friendly and cooperative ties.

“The military-to-military contacts between the two ministries and two armed forces have been expanding and deepening throughout the years in the fields of high level visits, ship visits, multilateral joint exercises and personnel training.

“In April 2019, the Royal Brunei Navy sent a high-level naval delegation and ship to participate in the 70th anniversary celebration of the founding of the PLA Navy and the China-Southeast Asian countries’ joint naval exercise.

“In September 2019, the PLA Navy training ship Qi Ji Guang successfully visited Brunei and strengthened the friendship.

“With the COVID-19 raging in China and Brunei, State Councillor and Minister of National Defence of China General Wei Fenghe, and the Minister of Defence II of Brunei Darussalam Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yussof, exchanged letters of sympathy to extend support and express the fraternal friendship between the PLA and the RBAF.Such exchanges, cooperation and mutual help enhanced the friendly relations between the two countries and militaries.

“I sincerely hope that the exchange and cooperation between our two countries and two armed forces will strengthen continuously. We will go forward shoulder-by-shoulder and work closely, to jointly create a bright future of regional peace, stability and prosperity.”

Since it entered service, the PLA Navy’s hospital ship, Ark Peace, has fulfilled seven voyages coded as Mission Harmony, visited 43 countries, including Brunei Darussalam, and provided medical services to the local communities. “The defence cooperation between China and ASEAN member countries is moving forward. The military relationships between China and its neighbouring countries are generally stable.

“China actively participates in multilateral dialogues and cooperation mechanisms, including the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus and ASEAN Regional Forum, regularly holds China-ASEAN defence ministers’ informal meetings, and proposes and constructively promotes initiatives to strengthen regional defence cooperation.

The China-ASEAN Maritime Exercise-2018, the first between Chinese and ASEAN militaries, was held in October 2018 and demonstrated the confidence and determination of the countries in maintaining regional peace and stability.

“China is committed to peacefully resolving the disputes over territory and maritime demarcation through negotiation and consultation.”

Senior Colonel Li also added that China and ASEAN member countries “have comprehensively and effectively implemented the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and actively advanced the consultation on Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, and are committed to extending practical maritime security cooperation, developing regional security mechanisms.”