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Overcoming Challenges and Achieving Development

Overcoming Challenges and Achieving Development

-Message of H.E. Yu Hong, Chinese Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam on the Occasion of the 71st Anniversary of the Founding of the People's Republic of China

This year marks the 71st anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. It is a year of joint efforts against COVID-19, a year of further building consensus on cooperation, and a year of reviving growth and safeguarding peace and development.

The outbreak of COVID-19 since the beginning of this year is the most serious global public health emergency in a century, posing a threat to the lives of peoples around the world. The Chinese government has always put people's safety and health as its first task. The Chinese government has taken decisive and stringent measures, and with the support from the Chinese people, a total of 346 national medical teams, consisting of 42,600 medical workers and more than 900 public health professionals from across the country, were mobilized to aid Hubei Province. At such difficult times, the international community including Brunei offered sympathy and active support to China.

After the epidemic was initially brought under control, China made every effort, despite great difficulties, to resume work and production, to improve its ability to provide medical supplies, and to launch a global campaign of emergency humanitarian assistance at a scale unseen in the history of the People's Republic of China. China has provided timely medical supplies assistance to over 150 countries and international organizations in response to their needs. China organized thematic video conferences between the Chinese health experts and their counterparts in more than 180 countries. 33 medical teams from China were sent to 31 countries badly in need. And China provided two batches of cash assistance totaling US$50 million to the World Health Organization (WHO). China is working with 11 countries on phase-three clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines. When available, China will share the vaccines with other countries through various channels. As pledged by President Xi Jinping, China will make its COVID-19 vaccine a global public good.

The epidemic has dealt a heavy blow to the world economy and has had an unprecedented impact on China's economic development. The Chinese people have united as one to overcome the severe challenges brought about by the epidemic and the floods. At present, the epidemic prevention and control situation in China is stable, and the economic operation has basically resumed. China's GDP fell by 6.8% year on year in the first quarter and grew by 3.2% in the second quarter, making China the first major economy to resume economic growth since the outbreak. From January to August, China's foreign trade volume increased by 3.6% year on year, and foreign direct investment by 6.9%. In August, the three major economic indicators of production, consumption and investment all shifted from negative to positive. The economy is expected to achieve a medium-to-high growth of 5% to 6% in the third quarter.

On January 1st this year, China formally implemented the Foreign Investment Law. Under the premise of effective prevention and control of the epidemic, China will open up more "fast tracks" for personnel exchanges and "green lanes" for customs clearance of goods to facilitate cross-border operations for enterprises.

China is fostering a new development architecture with domestic circulation as the mainstay and mutual reinforcement of domestic and international circulations. Through deeper reforms, lower tariffs, shorter negative lists, more convenient market access, more transparent market rules and a more attractive business environment, China will connect its huge domestic market, the world's largest one, more closely to the global market,creating wider development space and more opportunities for China itself and other countries around the world.

China and Brunei are friendly neighbors facing each other across the sea. Faced with COVID-19 epidemic, the two countries have been carrying forward the "kampong spirit" characterized by "bermucang-mucang" (helping each other). We will never forget, during the critical period of China's fight against the epidemic, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and the royal family, Bruneian government and the people spoke highly of the strong measures taken by the Chinese government, supported the Chinese people's efforts to combat the epidemic, bringing warmth and encouragement to the Chinese people in adversity. After COVID-19 hit Brunei, H.E. Wang Yi, State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China had a phone conversation with Dato Erywan Pehin Yusof, Minister of Foreign Affairs II of Brunei, to exchange views on strengthening anti-epidemic cooperation. The Chinese central government, army, Embassy in Brunei, local governments and the Chinese enterprises made donation to Brunei with fund and medical supplies and shared their experiences to support Brunei's efforts against the epidemic. Videos of peoples from two countries encouraging each other went viral on social media and won wide praises. Among them, the one titled "Joining Hands to Fight the Epidemic and Sharing the Future" has received more than 2.71 million hits in China.

This year is the China-Brunei Tourism Year. H.E. President Xi Jinping and His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam both sent messages of congratulations to the opening ceremony of China-Brunei Tourism Year. Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna graced the opening ceremony. Affected by the epidemic, some planned activities will be conducted online, while the rest has been postponed to next year. Early this year, H.E. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi co-chaired the first meeting of the China-Brunei Intergovernmental Joint Steering Committee with H.E. Minister of Foreign Affairs II Dato Erywan Pehin Yusof of Brunei and reached important consensus on further promoting of the bilateral cooperation. Recently, H.E. Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe paid a successful visit to Brunei, which further promoted the defense cooperation between the two countries.

Currently, both China and Brunei have made great achievements in the anti-epidemic fights thanks to the strong leadership and the extensive support of the peoples of the two countries. From January to July 2020, the bilateral trade volume reached US$1.12 billion, a year-on-year increase of 107%. Hengyi Petrochemical, the largest joint venture between China and Brunei, started full operation, which has extended Brunei's oil and gas industry chain, created new jobs and played a positive role in achieving economic diversification. The Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Bridge, with China State Construction Engineering Corporation as a co-constructor, is a new symbol of Brunei's modernization. The opening of the bridge during the epidemic has played an important role in prevention and control of COVID-19, facilitating the work and life of the people in Brunei. In response to the epidemic, two countries have also expanded and deepened cooperation in fields such as digital economy and health care.

The economic and trade cooperation between China and ASEAN has been kept growing. Two-way trade in the first eight months of 2020 reached 416.55 billion USD, a year-on-year increase of 3.8%. In the first half of the year, China's non-financial direct investment in ASEAN saw a 53.1% rise over the same period of the previous year. For the first time, ASEAN has become China's largest trading partner, which makes the two sides each other's largest trading partner, marking a historic breakthrough.

Next year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Brunei, as well as the 30th anniversary of the establishment of China-ASEAN Dialogue Partnership. China will actively support Brunei as the rotating presidency of ASEAN and work together to promote greater development of China-Brunei relations as well as China-ASEAN relations.

China is the largest developing country and faces many development challenges. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China and with the joint efforts of the people across the country, China's political, economic and social development has made important progress. At present, China's per capita annual income is about 30,000 yuan, average life expectancy more than doubled from 35 to 77.3 years, the infant mortality rate has dropped to 6.1‰, the compulsory education consolidation rate has reached 94.8%, and basic medical insurance covers 1.35 billion people. 850 million people have been lifted out of absolute poverty and the incidence of poverty has dropped from 31.7% in 2002 to 0.6% in 2019. This means that China will eliminate absolute poverty for the first time in its history, becoming the first developing country to achieve the United Nations poverty reduction goal and contributing over 70% to the global poverty reduction. Since the introduction of the Human Development Index (HDI) by the United Nations Development Program in 1990, China has been the only country that has risen from a "low human development level" to a "high human development level". The main livelihood indicators have reached or exceeded the average level of upper-middle-income countries, and the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects will be basically achieved by 2020.

China has contributed over 30% to the global growth for the past ten-plus years. To date, China has exceeded all its commitments made when first joined the World Trade Organization (WTO), and its overall tariffs were brought down to 7.5%, lower than all major developing countries. Access to the Chinese market continues to expand, and for two years running, China has been among the major economies that have made the biggest improvement in their business environment. We are the number one trading partner for 130-plus countries and regions, and one of the most important markets for multinational companies. China's opening-up and development has brought huge business opportunities and development dividends to countries including Brunei, and has made an important and irreplaceable contribution to world economic growth.

At present, the international environment is undergoing complex changes and the uncertainty of the world economy is increasing, but peace, development, and win-win cooperation remains the trend of the times. China always pursues an independent foreign policy of peace, adheres to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, abides by the UN Charter, and opposes hegemonism and power politics. China has strengthened its good-neighborly and friendly relations with neighboring countries guided by the principles of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness, as well as the foreign policy of building friendship and partnership with neighboring countries. We have resolutely upheld the international system centered around the United Nations, the international order based on international law, and the multilateral trading regime represented by the WTO. China supports the WHO in its important role in responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, and opposes the politicization and stigmatization of the epidemic.

75 years ago, China made historic contributions to winning the World Anti-Fascist War and supported the founding of the United Nations. China is the second largest contributor to the UN regular budget and the peacekeeping budget, and has sent more peacekeepers to UN missions than any other permanent member of the Security Council. China firmly promotes the political resolution of hot spot issues, the building of a more equitable, just and rational international order, the joint development of the "Belt and Road Initiative", the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and the building of a community with a shared future for humanity. Recently, H.E. President Xi Jinxing pledged that China will adopt more vigorous policies and measures, aiming to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. China will provide another US$50 million to the UN COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan and US$50 million to the China-FAO South-South Cooperation Trust Fund (Phase III). China will extend the Peace and Development Trust Fund between the UN and China by five years after it expires in 2025. China will set up a UN Global Geospatial Knowledge and Innovation Center and an International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals to facilitate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. China will continue to work as a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of international order.

On behalf of the Embassy of China in Brunei, I extend my sincere gratitude to the people from all walks of life in Brunei and the Chinese citizens in Brunei for their support to the cooperation between China and Brunei and to the work of the Embassy as well. The mid-autumn festival falls on the National Day of China this year. I wish everyone a happy holiday.

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