BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – More than 130 Bruneian students have been awarded scholarships to study in China over the past 13 years.

Fifty-four of those scholarships were awarded by the Chinese government, while 80 were given by Hengyi Industries, which operates a $15 billion oil refinery and petrochemical plant on Pulau Muara Besar, the largest FDI project in Brunei.

Chinese ambassador Yu Hong said on Tuesday the country is trying to lure more international students from the region to cultivate talent to bolster the world’s second largest economy.

“We are trying to attract brilliant people no matter which country they are from, especially those who would like to work with us, and in turn, we would also like to provide opportunities for them,” she said during a ceremony to award five new scholarships to Bruneian students.

“We believe that if we want to develop, then we need more talented people. It would not be wise to close our doors, so our people should be open also.”

Last year China recorded 490,000 international students from 196 countries. Hong said Asia is “catching up in the education field”, with 202 of China’s universities making the 2018 Academic Ranking of World Universities.

“We are encouraging our students to study abroad and bring what they have learned home.

“We also want talented people from other countries to come to China, to work with us because our county is big, the market is big so you can find your future in China,” she told local media in an interview.

The envoy said the Chinese government has new adopted policies to make studying in China more attractive, such as allowing international students to take on part-time jobs and internships and granting work permits to students from prestigious universities or with postgraduate degrees.