Momentum surges toward closer China-Brunei tiesUpdated: 2013-10-11 10:56
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN - Premier Li Keqiang will hold talks with Bruneian Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Friday at a time when the two countries have a historic opportunity to further deepen and enrich their cooperation.
The meeting comes atop two decades of steady development of China-Brunei relations. Amid rapid expansion of bilateral interaction, two-way trade reached $1.6 billion last year, marking an 80-fold increase since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1991.
As President Xi Jinping has pointed out, the China-Brunei relationship, which features mutual respect and equality, serves as a paragon of harmonious coexistence and win-win cooperation between big and small nations in the region.
What is particularly striking is the rapid advance in the relationship since Xi and Hassanal agreed in April to lift bilateral ties to a strategic cooperative relationship.
In the resultant growth spurt, high-level contact and people-to-people exchanges have picked up steam, and bilateral practical cooperation has been exploring both new depths and a wider scope.
Following Li's talks with Hassanal, their second meeting this year, the two sides are expected to further cement their newly upgraded relationship with a series of cooperation agreements.
Against such a positive backdrop, it is highly admirable and encouraging the two countries have pledged to build on the current momentum and infuse sustained vigor into the development of bilateral ties.
The prospect is promising. For starters, the trade volume indicates ample room for future growth, especially given China's huge market remains far from fully tapped.
Meanwhile, the circumstances are auspicious. Brunei has committed itself to economic diversification, and China has voiced its readiness to offer a helping hand. Areas such as energy, agriculture and fishing all boast great cooperation potential.
Needless to say, China and Brunei do not always see eye to eye. The latter is one of several Southeast Asian countries that have disputes with China over the South China Sea.
Yet, it is truly heartening that Brunei has adhered to the path of pragmatism and dialogue and worked with China to prevent the issue from undermining regional friendship and cooperation.
Those claimants that are assertive and even provocative should follow Brunei's example.