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Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Yu Hong at the Year-end Media Appreciation Dinner

On February 9th, the Chinese Embassy in Brunei held a Year-end Media Appreciation Dinner. H.E.Chinese Ambassador Yu Hong delivered a remarks.The full text is as follows:

Dear friends from the media, good afternoon!

The year 2020 has passed, and the Year of the Ox is coming. I am very glad to meet you all today to share with you the unforgettable memories from yesterday and to look forward to tomorrow's pleasure. First of all, on behalf of the Chinese Embassy in Brunei, I would like to thank friends from the media for your continued support and cooperation over the past year.

2020 was an extraordinary year. For us personally, as well as on the national level, there are many unforgettable memories that we hold dear. The video you just saw is a precious record of the cooperation between China and Brunei last year. Pictures of a series of activities, experiences and memories remind us of what we went through together. But I have to say that the video and the pictures are nothging but a few, lucky moments captured, there are more wonderful stories waiting to be told. Today, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you more valuable stories from the China's version of "Always Putting People First" and "Building a Human Community with a Shared Future" in three aspects, which are economic and trade cooperation between China and Brunei, vaccine cooperation between China and the developing countries, and China's efforts in eradicating poverty.

Economy is the foundation of social development and progress, and the fundamental guarantee of people's livelihood. The year 2020 saw brilliant achievements in the economic and trade cooperation between China and Brunei. The bilateral trade volume reached US$ 1.91 billion, a year on year increase of 72.5%, and the import from Brunei to China surged by 217.1% year on year, with both growth rates ranking the first among ASEAN nations.

Regarding the two way investment over the same period of the previous year, China's investment in Brunei soared by 182.8%, being the top among ASEAN nations; China's assimilation of Brunei's investment saw a 37.8% rise, securing a second place among ASEAN nations. Earlier this year, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister H.E. Wang Yi payed a successful visit to Brunei. The two sides reached important consensus on advancing the bilateral relations, which is believed to lend new opportunities and fresh impetus to China-Brunei cooperation in all fields, including economic and trade.

Health is the primary need when it comes to human survival. In the face of the pandemic, the most urgent demand of each country is nothing more than vaccines. At the 73rd session of the World Health Assembly, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged that the COVID-19 vaccine, developed and deployed in China, when available, will be made a global public good, contributing to greater accessibility and affordability of vaccines in developing countries.

Currently, China has rolled out COVID-19 vaccine program for people deemed at high risk of contracting the disease. Despite the huge demand at home front considering its 1.4 billion population, the Chinese government, tackling the global fight against COVID-19 from a overall perspective, stands ready to work with other countries, developing countries in particular, to carry out international cooperation on vaccines and to provide support and assistance to the best of its ability.

China is providing vaccine aid to 53 developing countries including Pakistan, and we have exported and are exporting vaccines to 22 countries. China also actively participates in the WHO-led COVAX and decided to provide 10 million doses of vaccines to the program, mainly to meet the demand of developing countries. China supports domestic companies in conducting joint R&D and manufacturing with foreign partners, and in exporting vaccines to countries that are in urgent need of vaccines, have certified Chinese vaccines, and authorized their emergency use. We also support and assist foreign vaccine companies in manufacturing in China, whose vaccines will then be delivered overseas. China and Brunei also have been working closely with each other on vaccines.

After delivering our donation of vaccines to Pakistan, our first recipient, our donated vaccines also arrived in Cambodia and the Laos few days ago. The shipment of vaccines we are providing to Equatorial Guinea began yesterday. The first batch of vaccines we exported to Peru also arrived the day before yesterday. In the coming days we will provide vaccines to other countries.

Leaders of many countries such as Turkey, Seychelles, Jordan, Indonesia, and Bahrain have publicly injected the Chinese vaccines. The Serbian President personally went to the airport to welcome the Chinese vaccines and expressed his willingness to be vaccinated. Prime Minister of Cambodia and President of Peru also expressed their willingness to be inoculated with China's vaccines.

China hopes that the international community will strengthen cooperation to ensure the accessibility and affordability of COVID-19 vaccines so as to ultimately win the joint fight against the virus. Since the early onset, the availability of vaccines has attracted the attention of WHO. While it is difficult for developing countries to secure vaccines, certain countries have ordered vaccines several times their own population.

Eradicating poverty is essential for human development and progress. When the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, China had one of the highest poverty rates in the world. The rural population, which accounted for 87% of the country's total population, was generally in abject poverty. After 70 years of unremitting efforts, China has successfully lifted 850 million people out of poverty. Since 2013, more than 10 million people have been lifted out of poverty each year. By 2020, China have ensured that all rural residents falling below China's current poverty line are lifted out of poverty, realizing the poverty reduction goal of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of time, contributing more than 70% of the world's poverty reduction.

Take Xinjiang as an example. From 2014 to 2019, the average annual GDP growth was 7.2%. In 2020, despite the impact of the COVID-19, Xinjiang achieved the GDP year-on-year growth of 3.4%. People's living standards have been significantly improved, the basic public services in both urban and rural areas have been constantly promoted, and the social security system has been gradually perfected. 99.7% of residents are covered by basic medical insurance, and all people enjoy free physical examinations. All 14 prefectures in Xinjiang have entered the era of expressways, and a decisive victory has been achieved in poverty alleviation. By 2020, over 3 million rural residents living under the current poverty line in Xinjiang have been lifted out of poverty, and absolute poverty in Xinjiang has been eradicated for the first time in history.

Xinjiang is a place where many ethnic groups living together in harmony. From 2010 to 2018, Xinjiang's permanent population increased by 13.99%. Among that, the growth rate of the Uygur population was higher than the permanent population, and even much higher than the 2% growth rate of the Han population.

It is regrettable that some anti-China forces have been spreading rumors, slandering and smearing against China in an attempt to undermine China's development and stability. We believe that those who are not blinded by prejudice will see through their lies. China's efforts and achievements in eradicating poverty and improving people's livelihood have been widely recognized by the international community. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke highly of China's achievements, saying that "China has made the largest contribution to global poverty reduction over the past decade".

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. We are proud of all the progress China has made, which is achieved through the hard work of the Chinese people under the leadership of CPC. This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Brunei and the China-ASEAN dialogue relations. I hope media friends will continue to support the development of China and Brunei relations, and China-ASEAN cooperation.

The Year of the Ox will begin in two days. The ox is a praiseworthy creature. It not only symbolizes diligence and endeavor, but also stands for wealth and harvest. On this joyous occasion, on behalf of the Chinese Embassy in Brunei, I would like to extend Lunar New Year greetings to all friends from the media. I wish you all the health, prosperity and happiness in the Year of the Ox.

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