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President's first leg of trip fruitful
By Qin Jize (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-04-20 23:49

China and Brunei signed and exchanged a series of bilateral co-operative agreements yesterday as Chinese President Hu Jintao began his two-day state visit to the tiny Islamic sultanate.

President Hu Jintao (C) is escorted by Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah (L) to inspect an honour guard during a visit in Bandar Seri Begawan April 20, 2005. Hu arrived in the capital of Brunei for a two-day state visit. [Reuters]
The waiving of diplomatic and official visas, info-communication technology, public health, energy and people-to-people exchanges were the main focus of the five agreements.

This is Hu's first visit to Brunei after he assumed the position of president, and also his first destination on a three-nation tour of Southeast Asia, which includes Indonesia and the Philippines..

During the meeting with His Majesty Paduka Seri Baginda Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, Hu said China and Brunei have enjoyed a very close relationship over the years and China is willing to combine the efforts of the two countries to make them good neighbours, friends and partners.

Hu suggested bilateral relations develop with a focus on six aspects: initiating activities to celebrate next year's 15th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations; expanding economic co-operation as the economies of the two countries are highly complimentarily; encouraging further co-operation between enterprises with the crude oil trade already the backbone of bilateral trade; developing travel and aviation co-operation; enhancing exchanges between the two armies; and welcoming Brunei to open consulates in Hong Kong and Shanghai

His majesty responded to Hu's ideas warmly, saying Brunei is happy to work together with China to realize the goals.

Hu also said China has always insisted on finding ways to exploit the disputed areas of the South China Sea together with concerned countries on the basis of mutual respect, equality and benefit in an open and flexible manner.

His majesty said the Code of Conduct of the South China Sea, signed between China and the Association of Southeast Asia Nations in late 2002, was a big step forward in resolving the disputed areas of the South China Sea.

Chinese ambassador to Brunei Yang Yanyi, said the two countries have given a priority to co-operation in the areas of energy, trade, investment, tourism and education.

The ambassador said looking at the larger picture, China is striving to become a well-off society in an all-round way whilst Brunei is engaged in economic diversification.

She said the two countries should tap the opportunities and complementarity nature of the other to achieve higher development goals.

She said energy co-operation was one of the major areas in which the two countries co-operate as China is Brunei's eighth biggest buyer of crude oil with the first three being Japan, South Korea and Australia.

According to the ambassador, there are about 40,000 Chinese living in Brunei, which accounts for the 11 per cent of the country's population. And many of them have business interests in Shanghai, particularly in the real estate and service industries.

Yang said about 20,000 Chinese travelled to Brunei every year and the local government has vowed to up this number to about 100,000 by 2010.

She said the signing of the agreements would pave the way for the two economies and societies to forge closer co-operation.

She said the agreement on a 3G project of Total Network in Brunei between Huawei Technology Co Ltd and Telekom Brunei, would provide cost-effective and convenient communication and service facilities to the country.

"I think it will also contribute to the country's efforts in e-government and e-business," she said.

Zhang Shen, a representative from Huawei Technology Co Ltd, the largest Chinese company present in Brunei, said his company has confidence in the local market. "We are planning to train local technicians and engineers to help with the development of the projects."

He said the 3G mobile telephone system is expected to be commissioned towards the end of this year.

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