Contributed by Ambassador of China to Brunei Darussalam Yu Hong
On August 5, 2022, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Brunei’s Minister of Foreign Affairs II Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Erywan bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Haji Mohd Yusof on the sidelines of foreign ministers’ meetings on East Asia cooperation in Cambodia.
This is the first time that the foreign ministers’ meetings on East Asia cooperation are held physically since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is also the first bilateral meeting between the two foreign ministers since the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Dialogue Relations in Chongqing, which is very important to bilateral relations and regional cooperation.
State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi shared that facing each other across the sea, China and Brunei have enjoyed a long-standing friendship stretching for a thousand years.
Despite differences in national conditions and systems, the two countries have always respected, understood and cared for each other.
The two sides should continue to adhere to the friendly policy toward each other, carry forward the tradition of mutual support, and promote the sound and stable development of bilateral relations.
The friendly exchanges between China and Brunei have a long history. Last year, the two countries jointly celebrated the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, the political mutual trust between the two countries has been continuously deepened, and pragmatic cooperation in various fields has continued to expand, bringing tangible benefits to the people of the two countries.
At present, the world is not only suffering from the impact of the pandemic, but also facing geopolitical, inflation, energy and food crises, and weak global economic recovery. It is encouraging to note that China-Brunei economic and trade cooperation has shown outstanding resilience and vitality.
Bilateral trade volume has grown rapidly, reaching a record high of USD2.85 billion in 2021. Growth continued in the first six months of this year, reaching USD1.53 billion.
China has become the second largest trading partner and largest source of investment of Brunei.
The cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative has made positive contribution to Brunei’s economic development as well as China-Brunei cooperation.
Both China and Brunei support open regionalism. Brunei has joined the Group of Friends of the Global Development Initiative, which will contribute to accelerating the implementation of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Brunei is named as “Abode of Peace”.
Although China and Brunei differ in size, both sides cherish the hard-won regional peace and stability and call on all parties to respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity, observe the principle of non-interference in internal affairs in accordance with the UN Charter and international law, and jointly uphold the international system with the United Nations at its core.
Last year, which marked the 30th anniversary of China-ASEAN dialogue relations, 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 and President Xi Jinping co-chaired the Special Summit to Commemorate the 30th Anniversary of China-ASEAN Dialogue Relations, jointly announced the upgrade of the relation to China-ASEAN Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
For more than half a year, China-ASEAN cooperation in various fields has yielded promising results and the comprehensive strategic partnership has got off to a good start.
We have worked together to meet the challenges from various spillovers, and jointly maintained the hard-won peace and stability in the region, safeguarding “an oasis of peace”. We have shown solidarity in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthened cooperation in emergency management, building “a shield of safety”.
We have jointly implemented the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and accelerated connectivity, creating “a highland for development”.
We have launched the China-ASEAN Year of Sustainable Development Cooperation and enhanced cooperation on green development, climate change response, environmental protection and energy transition, bringing together “green drivers”.
We have increased direct flights between China and ASEAN member countries, arranged for students from ASEAN member countries to return to China to resume classes in an orderly manner, and strengthened exchanges and cooperation in culture, tourism and sports and between think tanks, cementing the “pillar of public support”.
This year marks the 55th anniversary of ASEAN. China and ASEAN are good neighbours, good friends and good partners with a shared future, and are always working together to meet challenges, uphold peace and stability of the region, and build a common homeland that enjoys peace, tranquility, prosperity, beautiful environment and friendship.
China will unswervingly take ASEAN as a high priority in its neighbourhood diplomacy, unswervingly support ASEAN unity and ASEAN Community building, unswervingly support ASEAN centrality in the regional architecture, and unswervingly support ASEAN in playing a bigger role in regional and international affairs.
Whether it is a financial crisis, natural disaster as tsunami or earthquake, geopolitical challenge or epidemic crisis, the 1.9 billion people of China and ASEAN member countries have always been focussing on cooperation, extending mutual support, meeting challenges and overcoming crises hand in hand and heart to heart.
The one-China principle is the political foundation for the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and any country in the world. It has become the universal consensus of the international community and basic norm in international relations. ASEAN foreign ministers released a statement; China appreciates that it clearly reiterated ASEAN member states’ support for the one-China policy.
With the hard-won peace, stability and development in the region cherished, China is willing to work with ASEAN countries including Brunei to give full play to the invaluable wisdom and experience accumulated over the past 30 years of cooperation, grasp the overriding trend, overcome the risks and challenges, and make good use of opportunities to jointly promote a bright future.