From Overseas Press

Growing China-Bangla ties

(The Daily Star)
Updated: 2010-06-17 15:24
Large Medium Small

Within nine weeks of a bilateral decision reached during Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's trip to China, on exchange of high level visits between Beijing and Dhaka, Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping has paid us a visit. Such a prompt reciprocal gesture from the Chinese side bears testimony to the importance that both countries place to a sound friendship based on equality, mutual respect and trust and non-interference in each other's affairs.

Actually, the way we are opening up to both India and China represents a robust new foreign policy direction and approach that the AL-led government is embracing by way of obtaining mutual gains based on commonality of interest shared with two regional giants. Apart from the geographical proximity, shared river system, historical ties among the countries there is so much potential to draw on and benefit by cooperative relations with the two emerging economies, their technical know-how and their large markets.

While the two countries look forward to an early implementation of the four accords and MOUs signed during Bangladesh PM's visit to China that would take the partnership for progress forward, the outcome of Xi Jinping's visit has been an add-on to the ongoing cooperation process. The issue of building a deep seaport in Chittagong had been mooted in our PM's recent visit to Beijing. Now, it seems, China has indicated a willingness to give assistance to Bangladesh in building a deep seaport in Chittagong. She will also help install the country's first space satellite. In specific terms, Beijing has agreed to quicken disbursement of funds for Pagla Water Treatment Plant and Shahjalal Fertilizer Factory. A grant of 40 million RMB, Chinese regional currency is on the pipeline.

On the question of trade, the imbalance vis-a-vis China can only be reduced if more Bangladeshi products have duty-free access to Chinese market. Of the two other decisions, exchange of data and information about the flow of the river Brahmaputra, a common river as well as Chinese assistance in curbing militancy and terrorism deserve mention.

It is the follow-up on the visits that is pivotal to an implementation of the cooperation agenda.