By Ding Zi, Wang Fang, Sun Guangyong, Lin Rui, People’s Daily
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s upcoming state visit to Brunei will usher in a new chapter of China-Brunei ties.
The strategic cooperation between the two countries is presently at an all-time best, with continuously deepening mutual trust and vigorously pragmatic cooperation.
In 2013, the two countries decided to upgrade bilateral ties to a strategic cooperative relationship. Today, the leaders of two countries have established sincere friendship, and the relations between the two countries have become a model of equal treatment and harmonious co-existence between big and small countries.
Chinese elements can be seen everywhere in Bandar Seri Begawan, capital of Brunei, such as the Wang Sanpin road named after antient Chinese diplomat Zheng He’s subordinate, the sound of reading of Chinese textbooks from local schools, the dazzling Chinese commodities at shopping malls, as well as the increasing number of Chinese visitors at tourist attractions.
Member of Brunei’s Legislative Council Ong Tiong Oh told People’s Daily that Brunei looked forward to President Xi Jinping’s visit. He said Brunei needed China’s assistance in various fields such as economy and technology, voicing his hope that China-Brunei friendship could remain stable through mutually beneficial cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative.
Kelly, who teaches at Brunei’s Chung Hwa Middle School now, was once a student of Guangzhou-based Jinan University in China. She is very excited when talking about her experience in China.
“I love China! Back there I could buy things from the internet without even stepping out of my house, and I could also return products purchased online within seven days,” she said, adding that her students always admired her when she told them her experiences in China.
Currently, Brunei is promoting Brunei’s Wawasan 2035 to boost diversified economic development, while the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by Xi is injecting strong momentum into the deepening of China-Brunei cooperation. China has become Brunei’s largest source of import, and more and more Chinese enterprises are investing in Brunei.
The Pulau Muara Besar Bridge and the Temburong Bridge under construction, two bridges that traverse the Brunei Bay, constitute a magnificent view.
The Pulau Muara Besar Bridge, Brunei’s first cross-sea bridge, was completed by China Communications Construction Company in May 2018.
The Temburong Bridge will be open to traffic at the end of the next year. Partly undertaken by China State Construction Engineering Corporation, it is the largest public infrastructure project ever carried out in Brunei. It will connect the mainland of Brunei and the Temburong District. The Brunei Times once commented that the widely anticipated cross-sea bridge would become a landmark of Brunei.
Brunei has witnessed fruitful results of the Belt and Road construction. The container terminal of the only deep-water port of Brunei – the Port of Muara, was handed over to a joint venture established by China’s Beibu Gulf Port Group and Brunei’s Darussalam Asset in 2017.
Besides, the largest joint-venture project between China and Brunei, a crude oil refinery financed by China’s Zhejiang Hengyi Group, started the comprehensive construction in 2018.
As the largest single foreign direct investment Brunei has seen in recent years, the refinery is expected to hit an output value of $5.5 billion in 2020 and create nearly 1,000 jobs for local community. It is hailed as an economic catalyst for the Pulau Muara Besar and surrounding areas by Borneo Bulletin.
Brunei’s Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah spoke highly of the economic cooperation between China and Brunei in recent years, saying that Brunei welcomed Chinese enterprises to conduct cooperation and investment in the country for win-win results.
He underscored that the alignment of Chinese and Bruneian development strategies would not only boost Brunei’s diversified economic development, but also enhance cooperation in trade, investment and tourism among the countries along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
Chinese Ambassador to Brunei Yang Jian told People’s Daily that through cooperation with China, Brunei would promote its own development and build a center of production, trade, processing and logistics in the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).
“It will establish and promote sub-regional cooperation in the BIMP-EAGA and help achieve win-win results and common progress,” Yang added.