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China and Brunei get down to business

By Xu Wei in Temburong, Brunei | China Daily | Updated: 2018-12-11 09:17
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Catalyst for change

Similar to the refinery and petrochemical project on Pulau Muara Besar Island, the Temburong Bridge also carries Brunei's hopes of diversifying its economy. Falling oil prices in recent years have led to a new focus on tourism, and local travel agencies are eagerly looking forward to the bridge being completed.

Leslie Chiang, the founder of Brunei tour company Borneo Guide, in addition to the Sumbiling Eco Village, said, "More people will visit Temburong and the rainforest, and will be able to enjoy more activities without worrying about dashing to catch a water taxi."

She added that in recent years her company has seen a major increase in the numbers of Chinese tourists.

"Also, the increase in Chinese businesses in Brunei has helped local ones to grow, creating more jobs," she said.

Chiang added that the bridge will soon be an attraction itself. "It will be stunning if you drive on it either during sunset or sunrise. I cannot wait to see the view from the bridge," she said.

Meanwhile, more Chinese service providers are eyeing growth in Brunei.

Zhang Tao, CEO of Yeebee, a Chinese business-to-business services provider, said the company is targeting more expansion in Brunei to tap the potential of the service sector by linking local suppliers with those in China.

Zhang, who visited Brunei last month to promote his company's services, said more than 20 local businesses have signed up. "In the future, we foresee more demand for high-end consumption here, especially in education, tourism, medical care and financial services," he said.

He added that the growing presence of Chinese businesses in Brunei may see a demand for financing services, which could be met through cooperation between institutions in both countries.

Tyagi, the coordinator, said infrastructure projects such as the Temburong Bridge could be catalysts for "an array of changes".

"Previously, there was hardly any economic development in Temburong. The number of people staying there has been falling. The younger generation, because of the lack of opportunities, is moving to downtown areas," he said, adding that Temburong is underdeveloped largely because of a lack of convenient access.

"With the bridge, Temburong can have its own economy. It will enable better transportation of goods and manpower. Once the number of people rises, infrastructure will grow accordingly," he said.

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