BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — Brunei’s trade volume with China climbed 72.5 percent last year, the largest growth among ASEAN member states, said Chinese ambassador to Brunei Yu Hong on Saturday.

She said two-way trade grew “against all odds”, reaching US$1.91 billion in 2020 compared to US$1.1 billion in 2019.

The envoy was speaking at the Logo Design Competition awards presentation ceremony to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Brunei. 

She added that China’s investments in Brunei cover various areas, including the oil and gas downstream sector, port operations, while providing local job opportunities and contributing to Brunei’s efforts in achieving economic diversification.

China’s Hengyi Industries is the largest foreign direct investment project in Brunei, exporting 9.46 million metric tonnes of petrochemical products worth US$4.08 billion since its oil refinery started operations in November 2019.

Yu said both countries have shown support to each other amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

“When most countries were faced with severe vaccine shortages, China donated vaccines to Brunei despite its own strong domestic demand, which fully reflects the solidarity and friendship between China and Brunei,” she said.

China gifted 52,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines to Brunei earlier in February this year.

She said China-Brunei relations stand at a new “historical starting point” as Brunei assumes the rotating chairmanship of ASEAN this year.

This year also marks the 30th anniversary of China-ASEAN dialogue relations.

“China will work with Brunei to strengthen cooperation in promoting economic recovery and maintaining regional peace, stability and development to push our strategic cooperative partnership and China-ASEAN cooperation to new heights,” Yu said.

Winners of the Logo Design Competition, which was organised to mark the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Brunei. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

Describing Brunei and China’s ties over three decades, she said both countries have conducted high-level visits.

During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Brunei in 2018, bilateral relations were upgraded to “strategic cooperative partnership”.

“His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah has visited China 12 times. The heads of state of both countries have charted the development course for bilateral relations from a strategic perspective,” she added.

The past 30 years also saw the two countries sign a memorandum of understanding on the Belt and Road Initiative in 2018.

Initiated by China, the Belt and Road Initiative seeks to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks and strengthen Beijing’s economic leadership through infrastructure projects.