Sultan arrives in China
By Alex How in Nanning

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam will attend the Commemorative Summit which marks the 15th Anniversary of Asean-China Dialogue Relations, together with other Assean leaders, today (Oct 30) at the International Conference Centre, Liyuan Resort, Nanning, China.

His Majesty arrived last night and was greeted at the Nanning International Airport by Ms Yang Yanyi, China's Ambassador to Brunei, and Mu Hong, Vice Governor of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

His Majesty is accompanied by His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Also present were Brunei's Ambassador to China, Awang Haji Abdul Hamid bin Haji Jalil, Pehin Dato Dr Hj Awang Ahmad, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR), and Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Hamid bin Haji Mohd Jaafar, Permanent Secretary at the MIPR.

This year, known as the China-Asean Friendly Cooperation Year, witnesses the 15th anniversary of partnership between China and Asean, and a series of activities are scheduled to take place in commemoration of the partnership.

Apart from the Summit, His Majesty will attend the Splendid Southeast Asia Gathering in Nanning - Gala Performance today.

His Majesty will also attend the opening of the 3rd China-Asean Expo (CAExpo), which will be held from Oct 31 to Nov 3 at the Nanning International Convention and Exhibition Centre (ICEC).

The CAExpo focuses on regional economic and trade cooperation and provides tremendous opportunities for the business communities from all over the world.

The CAExpo works with the sole objective of promoting the building of the China-Asean Free Trade Area and striving for mutual benefits and common prosperity, which is based on the Framework Agreement on China-Asean Comprehensive Economic Cooperation.

A total of 389 cooperative projects, worth US$11.5 billion, were signed during the 2nd CAExpo, held at the ICEC.

The total trade transactions signed during last year's CAExpo was $1.1 billion, an increase of six per cent from $1 billion during the previous session.

Meanwhile, His Majesty will also attend the 3rd China-Asean Business & Investment Summit (CABIS), which will be held at the Conference Hall of Guangxi People on Oct 31 after the opening ceremony of CAExpo.

This event will be held in conjunction with the China-Asean Commemorative Summit and the 3rd China-Asean Expo, constituting the greatest political and business event for China, Asean and Asia as a whole.

With the theme of 'One Need, One Future', the 3rd CABIS is comprised of four parts including the opening ceremony and two sessions of state leaders' dialogues.

Earlier, His Majesty was bid farewell at the Brunei International Airport by HRH Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, HRH Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah and HRH Prince Abdul Malik.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will hold bilateral meetings with each of the Asean leaders on the sidelines of the summit, the Chinese government said, according to dpa.

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong all held bilateral talks with Chinese officials in different areas of China before Sunday.

Asean Secretary General Ong Keng Yong, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Myanmar Prime Minister Soe Win and Laos Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh arrived in Nanning later on Sunday.

Yudhoyono and Chinese Vice Premier Huang Ju attended a signing ceremony for an accord on energy and mining cooperation in Shanghai on Saturday, while Arroyo held talks in the south-eastern province of Fujian over the weekend.

China signed its first free-trade area (FTA) agreement with Asean, agreeing to build an FTA by 2010.

Before the summit, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said negotiation of the FTA with Asean had "progressed smoothly".

"We also have fruitful cooperation in security and the prevention of infectious pandemic disease," Liu said.

"Both sides will take this (Nanning) summit as an opportunity and exchange views on the development of bilateral ties," he said.

China's bilateral trade with Asean countries rose 23 per cent last year to US$130.3 billion, according to Chinese statistics. - Borneo Bulletin (30th October 2006)