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China keen to aid Brunei economy

  • Quratul-Ain Bandial

    The Brunei Times/ANN

Bandar Seri Begawan   /   Fri, April 22, 2016   /  09:39 pm
China keen to aid Brunei economy Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah (right) and China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi at Istana Nurul Iman, Bandar Seri Begawan, Thursday. (The Brunei Times/ANN/Yusri Adanan )

China is eager to aid Brunei’s diversification efforts by lending financial support to develop local infrastructure and industry.

Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah hosted Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at Istana Nurul Iman on Thursday for wide-ranging talks covering economic, political and security issues.

Following the meeting, Wang told reporters that China’s investment in the sultanate jumped 50 per cent last year, while contracts signed between the Brunei government and Chinese companies also increased significantly.

Cooperation in energy, agriculture, fisheries, health, and education were mooted, as well as boosting trade through the recently-established Brunei-Guangxi Economic Corridor.

China is already the biggest foreign investor in the sultanate, with Chinese companies heavily involved in major infrastructure projects, such as the construction of the US$4 billion crude oil refinery at Pulau Muara Besar and the $1.6 billion Temburong Bridge.

Wang said his government is encouraging more Chinese companies to invest in infrastructure in Brunei as part of its One Belt, One Road initiative – an ambitious connectivity plan which aims to revive the Silk Road trading route by building modern roads and ports that link China with the Indian Ocean and Europe through Southeast Asia.

“China has great political will to step up cooperation with Brunei, but first and foremost we need to listen to the views of Brunei to see what they need.”

He added that Beijing can also lend financial support for development projects through the Silk Road Fund and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Both countries are slated to sign an “intergovernmental cooperation document” linking China’s Belt and Road initiative to Brunei’s long-term development program called Vision 2035.

The sultanate also plans to start offering visas-on-arrival to Chinese tourists, in order to foster better people-to-people relations.

Wang said all these matters were discussed in-depth during a meeting at Brunei’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) earlier in the day, chaired by the Second MOFAT Minister Lim Jock Seng.

The minister said 2016 marks the 25th anniversary of Brunei-China relations and that throughout this period the two countries have maintained a “high level of political trust”.

“China-Brunei friendship has come this far which shows that the increasing strength of China will by no means pose any threat or challenge to any other country. China’s development will only bring opportunities and dividends.”

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