Bilateral trade between Brunei Darussalam and China has reached a record high of USD2.85 billion last year, said the Chinese Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam Yu Hong during an online media briefing yesterday.
This was a 46.6-per-cent increase compared to the previous year, she said. The ambassador said that despite the pandemic, trade between the country and China continue to grow. Chinese exports to Brunei Darussalam reached USD630 million, up 35.2 per cent year-on-year while Chinese imports from the Sultanate reached USD2.22 billion, up 50.1 per cent year-on-year.
Compared to the same period last year, the growth rate between China and Brunei Darussalam is faster than the 28.1-per-cent growth rate between China and ASEAN, she said.
The ambassador said joint projects between the two countries , such as Hengyi Industries Sdn Bhd (Hengyi) and Guangxi-Brunei Economic Corridor, have made great contributions to the growth and diversification of Brunei’s economy.
She added that China and Brunei Darussalam, which are among the first countries to ratify the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement will be able to ride the momentum of the creation of the world’s largest free trade zone to further expand investment and trade cooperation.
The ambassador lauded a “new chapter of cooperation in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic” between the two countries, saying China and Brunei Darussalam aided each other in fighting the pandemic.
She said China donated 152,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines to Brunei Darussalam, giving strong support to Brunei’s National COVID-19 Vaccination Programme.
She added, “The first batch of vaccines, in particular, was donated at a time when the global vaccine shortage was very severe.
“China’s domestic vaccine demand was under great pressure, and some countries resolutely refused to provide vaccines to other countries.
“When Brunei was hit by the second wave, the second batch of Sinopharm vaccines was delivered within a very short period of time.
“These rapid and timely responses showed China’s sincere support for Brunei,” she said.
The ambassador said, “Chinese company BGI‘s experts rushed to Brunei within a short time, set up the first mobile inflatable Huo Yan laboratory in Southeast Asia and put it into operation.
The team also provided personnel to help Brunei with testing tasks during the peak of the second wave, and training of the Bruneian staff in operating the lab.
EVYD Technology has been upgrading the BruHealth App. These Chinese companies have been contributing to the virus testing, pandemic prevention and control capacities of Brunei.
Bank of China Brunei branch, Hengyi, Huawei, Hiseton and other Chinese enterprises also donated anti-pandemic materials.
Meanwhile she said, “Muara Port Company Sdn Bhd (MPC) continues to waive port charges for importation of medical supplies and equipment, joining efforts to help Brunei combat the pandemic. Nanjing, as the sister city to Bandar Seri Begawan, donated anti-pandemic materials to Brunei.
“Here, I would like to express the appreciation to the strong support from the Bruneian side in the organisation of the Spring Sprout, a Sinopharm vaccination programme for Chinese nationals by the Embassy.
“The Kampong spirit of sincere support and mutual assistance between the two peoples in the fight against COVID-19 is a treasure that should be long-cherished.”
On the people-to-people exchanges, she recalled, “ Last year, the Embassy set up a ‘China Bookshelf’ in five local primary and secondary schools, as well as, donated a ‘Huaxing Library’ to Chung Hwa Middle School.
The Embassy also held the themed painting competition among Brunei primary school students for a third consecutive year together with the Ministry of Education.
She said, ”We also held a gathering with Bruneian students that are China Alumni to promote people-to-people exchanges and deepen friendships.
“President of China-ASEAN Association Gu Xiulian delivered warm remarks to express her support for bilateral friendship at Brunei-China 30th Anniversary of diplomatic ties and people-to-people exchange held by the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and Brunei-China Friendship Association.
“People from all walks of life of both countries shared their stories, which reflected the vitality and foundation of people-to-people exchanges from various perspectives,” she said.
The ambassador also said there were frequent high level exchanges between the two countries.
On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Brunei, Chinese President Xi Jinping and 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 exchanged congratulatory messages and spoke highly of the achievements of the bilateral relations.
In March and September last year, she said, “His Majesty attended the opening Plenary of the Boao Forum for Asia and the China-Asean Expo via videolink. His Majesty also sent the congratulatory message to President Xi Jinping, for the centenary of the Founding of the Communist Party of China.
“Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China Li Zhanshu held talks with Legislative Council Speaker Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Lela Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Dato Setia Haji Mohamed Taib virtually and State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi co-chaired the second meeting of the Joint Steering Committee between China and Brunei with Minister of Foreign Affairs II Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Erywan bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Haji Mohd Yusof.”
The two foreign ministers met again in Chongqing and had phone conversations to exchange in-depth views on regional and international issues of common interests, she said.