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Sino-Brunei relations date back to the 13th century, when Brunei's waterways were first used by ancient Chinese maritime traders. Today, Brunei's role as a "natural link" along the 21st Maritime

Silk Road makes the Sultanate an ideal regional trading hub for China. Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Pehin Dato Lim Jock Seng provides a strategic overview of how this relationship is developing as the two nations mark the 25th anniversary of their diplomatic relations.

What are some of the historic moments anchoring the 25th anniversary of Sino-Brunei diplomatic relations?

Official diplomatic relations with China began in 1991, followed by missions in 1993. However, our relationship goes back much further. In the 15th century, a member of the royal family, one of our sultans, went to China. There is a tomb in Nanjing where he is buried called the Brunei Heritage Garden.

How would you describe the current Sino-Brunei trade relationship?

Japan is still our largest trading partner. But trade with China has increased rapidly and it will soon be neck and neck with Japan, thanks partly to large projects such as the 26.3-billion-yuan ($4-billion) downstream facility being built by China's Hengyi Industries, which is now in its first phase of development. Within a couple of years, China will play a very important role in our diversification process.

What sectors are most likely to see growth?

At the moment, we are looking to diversify by developing derivatives from oil and gas in order to start up industries. There are also numerous opportunities to work with the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region in terms of agricultural products.

What export strategies are being considered?

We are thinking of working with New Zealand as a cattle and dairy product partner. New Zealand would produce cattle and milk with advanced technology, export them to Brunei to acquire halal certification, and then export the value-added products to China.

How would you sum up the Sino-China relationship?

We want to continue this good relationship. We very much appreciate China's contribution and support and we want to expand on this.

(China Daily 02/23/2016 page6)