CHINA – BANGLADESH FRIENDSHIP ELEVATED TO ‘STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP’
The Honourable Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina recently concluded a six-day official visit to China at the invitation of her Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang. This is Sheikh Hasina’s third visit to China, and the first after assuming the role of Prime Minister of Bangladesh for the third time in January 2014.
During her stay at China from 6th June to 11th June, the Bangladesh Premier met with several key personnel of Chinese political and economic orders, including Premier Li Keqiang, President Xi Jinping and Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Yu Zhengsheng.
Summarizing the outcome of the tour, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) released a 20-point document titled “Joint Statement on Deepening the Closer Comprehensive Partnership of Cooperation between Bangladesh and China”. According to this joint statement, Bangladesh and China have agreed to further expand and raise their partnership of cooperation to a newer height, exploring more avenues and opportunities for cooperation.
Furthermore, the two countries agreed to sustain momentum of high-level interaction and engagements, institutional cooperation, strengthen communication and coordination, people to people exchanges and forge closer cooperation on international affairs and climate change issues.
A number of positive developments took place during the Bangladesh Prime Minister’s visit to China. The two countries inked two agreements, two memorandums of understanding (MoU) and two letters of exchange (LoE) during the visit, opening up a new horizon for strengthening mutual cooperation in the areas of trade and investment, power generation, communications and transport and combating natural disasters.
Highlights Of The Tour10 06 2014-Bangladesh-China Treaties
Agreement on economical and technical cooperation: Bangladesh and China signed an agreement on economic and technical cooperation between the two countries under which Dhaka will receive 300 million RMB (approximately $50m) every year. This represents an increase of the Chinese government’s annual grant to Bangladesh from US$ 25 million (150 million RMB) to US$ 50 million (300 million RMB).
MoU for building tunnel under Karnaphuly river: Bangladesh has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China for building an underwater tunnel on the Karnaphuli river. Bridges Division Secretary Khondoker Anwarul Islam and China’s Vice Minister of Transport and Communications Chi-Kuo Mao signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the project on behalf of Bangladesh and China respectively.The project is expected to cost around $ 1 billion.
JVA for building 1320 MW power plant at Patuakhali: Bangladesh and China signed a joit venture agreement for establishing a coal-based ultra critical 1320 MW power plant in Patuakhali district. The project will be a joint venture between Bangladesh’s state owned North West Power Generation Company Ltd and Chinese company CMC.
MoU for building garment village: Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Orion International Holding Company of China for setting up a garment village at Gazaria in Munsiganj district. BGMEA President Atiqul Islam and Chief Executive Officer of the Orion Holding Tang Xiaoji inked the MoU in the presence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Joint pledge to implement Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIM-EC): 11 06 2014-Visit Bangladesh to explore tradeBangladesh and China have pledged joint efforts to implement the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIM-EC). The two countries recognised that the development of the corridor would constitute an important vehicle to complement various regional connectivity initiatives and provide an important avenue for strengthening cooperation and sustainable development.
China and Bangladesh agreed to remain actively engaged towards the development of the corridor along with other countries, and expressed their hope of realising mutually beneficial and result-oriented cooperation among the four countries. China welcomed Bangladesh’s participation in the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. Bangladesh’s convening of the Second Meeting of the Joint Study Group (JSG) of BCIM EC was lauded by China.
China’s assistance sought for major infrastructural projects: China and Bangladesh agreed that Chinese financial institutions would cooperate in major projects in Bangladesh with the relevant institutions in Bangladesh on five proposed projects for accelerating development, namely:
i) Development of National Infra Network for Bangladesh Government Phase III (Expanding IT connectivity up to Union Level: Info Sarkar Phase 3);
ii) Rajshahi WASA Surface Water Treatment Plant Project;
iii) Construction of 2nd Railway cum Road Bridge across the River Karnaphuli at Kalurghat point near the existing railway bridge;
iv) Construction of new single track dual gauge railway line from Chittagong to Cox’s Bazar via Ramu to Gundum near Bangladesh-Myanmar border; and
v) Eastern Refinery Unit-II and single point mooring (SPM) project.
Special economic zone for Chinese investors: While attending the 9th China-South Asia Business Forum held at Haigeng Conference06 08 2014-PM China Centre in Kunming, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina highlighted the investment opportunities that await Chinese businessmen and entrepreneurs in Bangladesh.
An MoU was signed between Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) and China Harbour and Engineering Company Ltd for establishment of a Chinese economic and investment zone in Chittagong.
Cooperation On Climate Change
China recognised the importance of Bangladesh to strengthen its capacity to address the challenges related to climate change and disaster risk reduction. Bangladesh expressed its appreciation for China’s support in this area and underlined the need for development and transfer of relevant technologies. China agreed to enhance its support to Bangladesh in addressing climate change challenges as well further strengthen cooperation on managing natural disasters. Both sides agreed to develop a framework of cooperation related to urban disaster rescue, relief and rehabilitation between the two countries.
China and Bangladesh agreed on undertaking practical initiatives towards protection, promotion and development of marine resources and marine sectors, in accordance with international law through maritime specific survey and research and addressing extreme climate and observing changes like ocean acidification. The two countries also agreed to deepen cooperation on creating sustainable employment for the people from perspectives of ocean-based economy and work for sustainable fisheries and exploration and development of marine resources, renewable energy, shipping and eco-tourism.
People To People Cooperation
With a view to facilitating widening interaction among people, the two sides agreed to simplify visa procedure for businesspersons, scholars/ researchers, students, artists, and tourists. Bangladesh requested China to continue to provide, and increase in due course, Chinese government-sponsored scholarships to Bangladeshi nationals, long-term training programmes for civil servants and diplomats in the relevant Chinese institutions and universities to help the country develop a pool of technical professionals needed for her nation-building programmes. China agreed to the proposal and assured facilitating more Bangladeshi students studying at all level in China through other programmes and channels.
Future Of China-Bangladesh Relations
With extensive cooperation in various sectors, Bangladesh and China look all set for elevating their mutual relations to newer heights in coming days. Currently a Chinese company is constructing Bangladesh’s largest infrastructural project till date, Padma Multipurpose Bridge. The recently concluded tour of the Prime Minister will undoubtedly usher in even closer cooperation in other large infrastructural projects of Bangladesh too.
With people-to-people exchanges crossing 70,000 last year and the two-way trade soaring over $ 10 billion, it is safe to say that the relations between the two countries have never been stronger. It is thus hardly surprising that year long festivities are being planned to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Bangladesh China diplomatic relations.
JANUARY 10, 2015