Chinese President Xi Jinping's upcoming state visit to Brunei will open a new chapter in the friendly relations between the two countries, China's ambassador here told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Yang Jian said the trip, which comes at the invitation of Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam, caps a traditional friendship that dates back to ancient times and has kept growing r.
Citing Chinese historical documents, Yang said exchanges between China and Brunei, then known as Boni, began during the Western Han Dynasty dating back to more than 2,000 years ago, and bilateral trade started from the Song Dynasty some 1,000 years ago.
During the Ming Dynasty, famous Chinese explorer Zheng He's fleet visited Boni, and a Boni king visited then Chinese capital Nanjing, said Yang, adding that unfortunately the king died of illness later and, in line with his will, was buried in Nanjing, and the tomb is now a national historical and cultural site.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1991, the two countries have witnessed frequent high-level contacts and rapid development of bilateral ties, said the ambassador.
With mutual trust and support, China and Brunei have enjoyed growing exchanges and cooperation in various fields as well as deepening understanding and friendship between the two peoples, Yang said.
In 2013, the two sides upgraded bilateral ties to a strategic cooperative relationship, she recalled, noting that with the care of the leaders of both countries, China-Brunei ties have become a model of relations between big and small countries featuring mutual respect, equality and win-win cooperation.
The Belt and Road Initiative proposed by Xi five years ago has added an unprecedented boost to the economic and trade cooperation between China and Brunei, said the ambassador.
She added that since Brunei, along with other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, became a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), bilateral economic and trade cooperation has further picked up steam.
Now China is Brunei's largest source of imports, and more and more Chinese enterprises are coming to invest and develop businesses in Brunei, said Yang.
Construction of the two countries' largest joint venture, the Hengyi petro-chemical project, is moving forward smoothly, said Yang, adding that after going into operation in 2019, it will bring remarkable economic and social benefits and boost local employment.
Meanwhile, the development of the Brunei-Guangxi Economic Corridor is making tangible progress, and bilateral cooperation is also gaining traction in such fields as harbor operation, sea farming, and spice processing and trade, said the ambassador.
Over recent years, people-to-people exchanges have also intensified, Yang said, noting that Brunei citizens have been allowed to visit China visa-free since 2003, and Chinese travelers to visit Brunei with visa on arrival since 2016.
With more and more Chinese cities launching direct flights to Brunei, around 52,000 Chinese tourists visited the Southeast Asian country in 2017, setting a new record and making China the biggest source of international visitors to Brunei, Yang said, adding that the growing exchanges in such areas as education, culture, media and youth have brought the two peoples ever r.
On global and regional affairs, the two countries share a wide range of common interests, understand and support each other on issues involving their core interests and major concerns, and jointly promote the stable development of China-ASEAN ties, said the ambassador.
Both sides adhere to the dual-track approach in appropriately handling the South China Sea issue and jointly safeguarding the region's peace and stability, Yang said.
She pointed out that Brunei is geographically located in the central area of the ASEAN region and the core of the East ASEAN Growth Area, and it is also an important partner of China in the joint building of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road with ASEAN and other parties.
Brunei boasts excellent infrastructure and a good investment environment, said the ambassador, adding that the two countries share broad prospects in cooperation within both bilateral and multilateral frameworks.
Xi's state visit will open a new chapter in China-Brunei friendly interaction, and with the joint efforts by leaders of the two countries and by the two peoples, bilateral cooperation will bear even richer fruit, she added.
"China is striving to build a great modern socialist country, while Brunei is working hard to realize the Brunei Vision 2035," Yang said. "The two countries can synergize their development strategies, explore new growth points in bilateral cooperation, and expand collaboration under the Belt and Road Initiative, so as to create a better future for the two peoples and make more contributions to regional prosperity and stability."