China strengthens ties with Brunei

Updated: 2013-10-12 00:20

By LI XIAOKUN in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei and ZHOU WA in Beijing (China Daily)

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Premier Li Keqiang and Bruneian Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah vowed to strengthen maritime cooperation and encourage enterprises from both nations to push for joint exploration and exploitation of maritime resources during a meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan on Friday.

The two leaders said their countries welcomed the recent signing of a deal between China National Offshore Oil Corp and Brunei National Petroleum Co Sendirian Berhad on the establishment of a joint venture in oil field services. They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding on maritime cooperation and other documents for bilateral cooperation.

China strengthens ties with Brunei

Premier Li Keqiang (left) agrees with Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah to expand trade and cooperation during their bilateral meeting at Nurul Iman Palace in Bandar Seri Begawan on Friday. [Ahim Rani / reuters]

"The cooperation showed a good example of joint exploration and exploitation of maritime resources between China and Southeast Asian countries in the South China Sea," said Wu Shicun, head of the National Institute of South China Sea Studies.

"It tells Southeast Asian countries that such joint exploration and exploitation will bring benefits to both sides and that cooperation is key to maintaining peace, stability and prosperity in the South China Sea."

China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei have overlapping territorial claims over parts of the South China Sea. China has always called for a peaceful resolution to the issues.

The two leaders emphasized that territorial and jurisdictional disputes in the South China Sea should be resolved through peaceful dialogue and consultations by sovereign states directly concerned.

They reiterated their commitment to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and said any consultations on a code of conduct should be advanced gradually with an emphasis on consensus.

In September, Chinese and ASEAN officials held consultations on a more detailed code of conduct under the framework of the declaration in the sixth China-ASEAN Senior Officials' Meeting and at the ninth Joint Working Group Meeting in September in Suzhou, Jiangsu province.

Leaders from China and ASEAN had agreed to continue to advance development on codes of conduct and authorize the Joint Working Group to hold consultations.

Li arrived in Brunei on Wednesday for the first leg of his maiden Southeast Asia tour as China's premier.

During the meeting, Li and Hassanal also agreed to maintain frequent exchanges and strengthen bilateral consultations at all levels on foreign policy, politics and trade. They also pledged to further enhance bilateral cooperation in such areas as trade, energy, infrastructure, agriculture, culture and defense.

Li also called for closer people-to-people exchanges between the two nations.

Brunei is the ASEAN chair country this year. Li hailed Brunei's role in ensuring the healthy and steady development of China-ASEAN relations.

Affirming China as "an important cooperation partner of his country", Hassanal said Brunei is ready to boost energy and maritime cooperation with China.

"The cooperation with China, which has advanced technologies on exploration and exploitation of maritime resources, will benefit Brunei's energy industry, which plays a very important role in Brunei's economic development," said Wu Shicun.

"Cooperation between China and Brunei has developed dramatically since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1991. The frequent visits by high-ranking officials from the two sides laid solid foundation for the development of bilateral ties," said Liu Xinsheng, former Chinese ambassador to Brunei. "The increasing trade and dynamic cooperation in various fields between the two countries at the moment showed a good momentum for future relations."