Brunei-China ties scaling new heights

James Kon

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the bilateral relationship between Brunei Darussalam and the People’s Republic of China continues to scale new heights without much disruption.

Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Brunei Darussalam Yu Hong spoke on the latest developments for both countries during a recent briefing to local media representatives.

According to the ambassador, in the first eight months of this year, there was a huge increase of trade between Brunei Darussalam and China by 108 per cent year-on-year from USD0.61 billion to USD1.26 billion. The growth rate is the biggest between China and ASEAN member countries. Export from Brunei Darussalam to China saw an even bigger increase of USD0.2 billion to USD0.95 billion.

With the huge increases, she said, “We should be confident with our trade relations. It’s very strong.”

She also cited that the Hengyi Pulau Muara Besar project has continued to contribute to the growth of gross domestic product (GDP) of Brunei Darussalam. According to statistics from Brunei, in the fourth quarter of last year, this was at BND110 million, which contributed two per cent of GDP growth of Brunei.

Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Brunei Darussalam Yu Hong. PHOTO: JAMES KON

Meanwhile, in the first half of this year, 48 per cent of the total trade volume of the country came from Hengyi, where 38 per cent of total exports of the country were from Hengyi’s project and 71 per cent of total imports were also from the Hengyi project.

In the unified support and fight against COVID-19, the ambassador lauded the close cooperation of both countries in curbing the deadly virus.

“Nobody had expected COVID-19 to impact the world drastically after it was first reported in China. China was the first country to fight the virus and will continuously fight against the virus, despite life already getting back to normal in China. This is a very serious global public health emergency in a century,” she said.

“It’s a threat to the life of people globally. The Chinese government has always put priority on public health and safety. I still remember the day when the Brunei Government gave us sympathy and understanding. I really appreciate the gesture of kindness,” she said.

She cited the message received from 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 to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping on the fight against COVID-19.

The ambassador noted that Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and six Cabinet Ministers also sent their messages of support during the Chinese New Year open house event.

“This has given us strong support,” said the ambassador. “We also appreciate the support and donation from the Government of Brunei Darussalam to the charity federation of Hubei.”

After the first case was reported in Brunei, she said, “China has also tried to help Brunei. In the name of the Chinese government as well as local Chinese province government like Nanjing, the Chinese military and enterprises in Brunei Darussalam as well as the embassy contributed to the relief fund. In August, we also supported the Ministry of Religious Affairs with a donation of face masks.

“We also share experience and control measures with relevant authorities in Brunei. The Chinese government also provides assistance to secure medical purchases in China. Every country was fighting to purchase medical supplies. Some Chinese companies sent their representatives to the factories to secure Brunei’s supplies.

“Different Chinese enterprises also reached out to the embassy to support Brunei. We are very happy to be able to contribute to the effort of the Brunei Government and people in the fight against COVID-19,” the ambassador said.

A total of 12 Chinese companies donated USD668,000 in cash and medical supplies worth nearly USD715,000 in total.