A signed article by Chinese President Xi Jinping titled “Jointly Write a New Chapter of China-Brunei Relations” was published Saturday in four newspapers in Brunei ahead of his state visit to the Southeast Asian country. The full text of the article, carried by The Borneo Bulletin, See Hua Daily News, United Daily News and Sin Chew Daily, is as follows:
Jointly Write a New Chapter of China-Brunei Relations
Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China
At the invitation of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, I will pay a state visit to Brunei Darussalam from 18 to 20 November. This will be my first visit to Brunei, a visit I am looking forward to with great pleasure.
Brunei Darussalam, the “abode of peace”, is known for its charming natural scenery, fascinating urban culture and social harmony. All this reminds me of the fictional land of peace, harmony and idyllic beauty described by the ancient Chinese poet Tao Yuanming. In recent years, Brunei has, under the outstanding leadership of His Majesty the Sultan, embarked on a development path that suits its national conditions and delivered prosperity and happy livelihood to its people. I sincerely wish Brunei even greater success on the road ahead.
For China, Brunei is a friendly neighbor across the sea as well as an important link along the ancient maritime Silk Road. It is thanks to this maritime Silk Road that our ancestors started exchanges over 2,000 years ago (in China’s Western Han Dynasty), and our peoples have got to know each other and developed a close bond of friendship. Many beautiful stories of our exchanges are still being told today. The fleet of the Chinese navigator Zheng He, who was fondly known as Panglima Cheng Ho among the people of Brunei, stopped over twice in Brunei about 600 years ago, bringing a message of peace and friendship to the local people. The Jalan Ong Sum Ping and Pu Kung Chih Mu in Bandar Seri Begawan and the Tomb of the King of Boni in China’s Nanjing city all bear witness to the long history of friendly interactions between the two countries.
In 1991, with the establishment of diplomatic relations, China and Brunei renewed the millennium-old friendship. Since the two countries developed a strategic cooperative relationship five years ago, we have deepened political mutual trust, steadily advanced practical cooperation, and supported and collaborated with each other on regional and international issues. China-Brunei relationship has been as good as ever, setting a good example of relations between countries of different sizes based on equality and mutual benefit for common development.
Brunei has warmly responded to and strongly supported the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) I proposed. Our two sides have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to build synergy between the BRI and Brunei’s Wawasan 2035, lending fresh impetus to our bilateral relations.
Since the beginning of this year, economic cooperation and trade between the two countries have expanded rapidly with China becoming one of Brunei’s most important partners. Two flagship projects, the Hengyi Brunei PMB Petrochemical Project and the Guangxi-Brunei Economic Corridor, are making good progress. More and more Chinese companies are making investments and doing business in Brunei, contributing to the diversification of Brunei’s economy. Chinese companies are actively involved in infrastructure development in Brunei, including the Pulau Muara Besar Bridge, the Telisai-Lumut Highway and the Ulu Tutong Dam. These projects have improved local connectivity and become shining “brand names” of China in Brunei.
Cultural and people-to-people exchanges are flourishing. China is Brunei’s biggest source of tourists and Chinese visitors are now a common sight on the streets of Bandar Seri Begawan. Direct flights operate like bridges over the air, connecting your capital with Chinese cities such as Hong Kong, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanning and Kunming and facilitating travelers between the two countries. The sister cities of Nanjing and Bandar Seri Begawan have enjoyed frequent exchanges between them. The friendship between the two peoples has thrived with new dynamism.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up and the fifth anniversary of the BRI. Remaining firmly committed to the policy of opening-up, China will promote substantive, results-oriented cooperation under the BRI and deliver greater benefits to the people in BRI partner countries. As China is working for the “Two Centenary Goals” of national development and Brunei is pursuing Wawasan 2035, our countries are both at crucial stages of development. It is important that we enhance mutual understanding, deepen friendship and strengthen cooperation to develop an even stronger relationship.
– We need to enhance political mutual trust. To take our relations to new heights, our two sides need to plan the development of China-Brunei relations from a long-term, strategic perspective, maintain high-level interactions and enhance political mutual trust. China respects and supports Brunei in following a development path suited to its own national circumstances.
– We need to deepen practical cooperation. Our two sides need to build stronger synergy between our national development strategies. China will continue to assist Brunei in economic diversification, ensure the success of key cooperation projects and explore with Brunei possible cooperation in energy, infrastructure, agriculture, fishery, e-commerce, maritime and other fields. We will encourage Chinese companies to invest in Brunei, and welcome more quality exports from Brunei to China.
– We need to increase people-to-people and cultural exchanges. Our two sides need to expand cooperation and exchanges in culture, health, education, sports, tourism and human resources training. China supports the opening of more direct flights by our airliners and encourages more Chinese tourists to come here. In the same spirit, we also welcome more Bruneian friends to study, visit or work in China.
– We need to strengthen coordination and cooperation in regional and international affairs. China will work with Brunei to deepen China-ASEAN cooperation in various areas and accelerate negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, so that we could deliver the benefits of the upgraded China-ASEAN FTA on the ground. China supports Brunei in playing a bigger role in BIMP-EAGA. China will work with Brunei in safeguarding multilateralism, the international trading system, and the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries, to make our contribution to peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
As a Bruneian proverb goes, tak kenal maka tak cinta (one may not like what he doesn’t know). Similarly, the Chinese would often say, “For friends, what is precious is mutual understanding.” China will remain Brunei’s sincere and good friend and a trusted partner for common development. I am confident that, with the joint efforts of our two governments and people, we will write an even more beautiful chapter in our friendly relations and cooperation!