By Hakim Hayat
Brunei Darussalam and the People's Republic of China's long-standing relationship, built on strong historical background that dates back many centuries ago, has evolved immensely over time.
The establishment of diplomatic relations between both countries 20 years ago has also further strengthened mutual cooperation, respect and understanding between both countries.
His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam delivered a titah at a dinner banquet hosted by His Majesty at the Istana Nurul Iman last night in honour of the two-day official visit by Wen Jiabao, Premier of the State of Council of the People's Republic of China.
Also present were HRH Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, HRH Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah, HRH Prince Haji 'Abdul Malik, HRH Princess Hajah Masna and other members of the royal family.
Accompanying Premier Wen at the audience ceremony were Yang Jiechi, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Zhang Ping, Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission; Chen Deming, Minister of Commerce, Xie Fuzhan, Minister of Policy Planning Office of the State Council; and Min Yongnian, China's Ambassador to Brunei.
Prior to the official banquet, His Majesty received in audience the Chinese premier and both leaders held a four-eye meeting.
His Majesty in the titah said the history of both countries provides testimony that our ancestors were far from being strangers to each other. "It is therefore a source of great satisfaction that during the last two decades, we have been able to renew our historical relationship to suit these modern times, thus leading to more interaction and greater understanding between our two peoples."
Being the year of friendship for both countries, commemorating the 20th anniversary of Brunei-China diplomatic relations, His Majesty said the friendship between our peoples and countries has helped achieve tremendous progress in cooperation in many areas including trade, investment, energy and agriculture.
"China has played an important role in regional and world affairs, promoting stability and economic growth in the region and beyond," His Majesty added.
His Majesty said Asean and China are now strategic partners with the establishment of the China-Asean Free Trade Area (CAFTA) that was duly proposed in Brunei 10 years ago, which has now become a reality.
"China's economy has become an important engine for global growth and a driver for greater cooperation in East Asia. Asean and China must continue to strengthen this partnership in order to foster greater development and create sustainable prosperity and stability in our region," His Majesty said.
Being part of a region of longstanding partners and close friends who share common hopes and a common purpose, His Majesty said, "Our people will have more confidence in facing the challenges of today and the future.
"In these days of instant communication, we are closer than we have ever been at any time, being able to consult and interact with each other at ease," His Majesty said.
Global impact of current economic problems faced by a number of countries and regions, His Majesty said, underlines the fact that we are all interdependent.
"In short, no country, big or small, can stand alone," His Majesty said.
The ruler in closing his titah reiterated Brunei's appreciation for the valuable relationship with the People's Republic of China based on mutual respect and understanding.
Wen in his return speech said that his visit is the very first official visit to Brunei ever made by a Chinese premier. "I wish to sincerely congratulate the people of Brunei for what they have achieved in nation development. I am confident that under the right leadership of Your Majesty, the diligent and talented people of Brunei will write still more brilliant chapters in national development along the path consistent with Brunei's nation conditions," the premier said.
China and Brunei, the premier said enjoy a time honoured friendship, which is acquiring new dimensions as time goes by.
Since both countries established diplomatic relations in 1991, both have ushered in rapid and sound economic growth in all aspects of bilateral ties, the Chinese premier said.
"Not only has our traditional friendship grown from strength to strength, but our cooperation in various areas has made fruitful progress bringing tangible benefits to our peoples and contributing to peace, stability and prosperity of the region."
The premier went on to describe China-Brunei relations as being a worthy example of equality, mutually beneficial cooperation and harmonious cooperation.
Wen also highlighted that despite differences in national conditions, both countries are confronted with a historical mission of shifting the growth model and achieving sustainable development. "It is thus our common interest to deepen our cooperation so as to meet the challenges together."
In closing his speech, the premier said he believes that China-Brunei relations are at a new starting point. "Let us work together, sustained by our traditional friendship and enhanced cooperation, to create an even better future for China-Brunei relations."
- Borneo Bulletin
(21st Novempber 2011)