Along for the ride

AKM Moinuddin, Back from China
Thursday, November 9th, 2017

Bangladesh media delegation poses in front of International Cultural Exchange College of the Xinjiang University


China takes Bangladesh in its unstoppable development journey


Today, China stands tall and firm in the world. Chinese President Xi Jinping has heralded the dawn of a new era of Chinese at the historic 19th CPC National Congress celebrating the end of his first term in office.


China wants to transform itself into a mighty force that could lead the world on political, economic, military and environmental issues taking all on board and ensuring welfare for the people of the world.


The Chinese nation has stood up, grown rich and become strong – and it now embraces the brilliant prospects of rejuvenation. China is looking forward an era that sees China moving closer to centre stage and making greater contributions to mankind.


Just after the conclusion of the National Congress, a 12-member Bangladesh media delegation led by Director (News), Bangladesh Betar Hosne Ara Talukder visited a number of Provinces including capital city Beijing at the invitation of Chinese Embassy in Dhaka.


As a member of the media delegation, I had the opportunity to interact with senior government officials, university professors, top executives of various companies and people in the cultural arena on various aspects of relations between Bangladesh and China. They made it clear that China is giving much importance to Bangladesh as part of its One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative.


Dhaka-Beijing ties unstoppable


China wants to maintain good relations with Bangladesh and other South Asian countries, keeping in mind the greater welfare of the people in the region, says a Chinese vice minister.


“Though we’ve mountains in both countries, these couldn’t put barrier to our growing relations,” Vice Minister Zhou Xiang told Dhaka Courier.


Mentioning Chinese President Xi Jinping’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, the leader of the Publicity Department of CPC Hunan Provincial Committee said China maintains good relations with South Asian countries following the OBOR that says moving ahead together.


Terming both Bangladesh and China densely populated countries, Xiang said both the countries are working for people’s welfare.


“Bangladesh can take lessons from China’s development experiences. But we don’t impose anything on any country,” he said sharing how China today becomes the second largest economy in the world from a poor country.


Zhou Xiang gave credit to the Communist Party of China (CPC) for the rapid development his country witnessed over the past decades.


The vice minister recalled China’s reforms and open policy that is taking China forwards and China will remain open to extend support to its friends like Bangladesh.


Terming Dhaka-Beijing relations very strong, he said the friendship is like the two countries are drinking water from the same river.


He observed that the cultural ties and people-to-people contacts between the two countries have witnessed tremendous growth in recent times. “I hope our friendship and love for each other will grow further in the days to come,” Xiang said.


Zhou Xiang termed the just concluded 19th CPC National Congress a ‘milestone’ which will help China move ahead with development goals.


Support for high-end manufacturing growth


Guangzhou, known as Canton, is a modern, vigorous metropolis which was our last destination during 10-day visit. It is the third largest city in China.


In Guangzhou, I had talked to Deputy Director of China Southern Power Grid Co. Ltd Li Xinhao on power sector cooperation between Bangladesh and China.


China sees a good prospect in electricity sharing by Bangladesh and Myanmar in the future through grid interconnection transmitting clean hydropower from China’s Yunnan Province, says a senior official of a leading power company of China.


“May be in the future Bangladesh and Myanmar can reach an agreement and we can transmit clean hydropower from Yunnan Province to Myanmar and then to Bangladesh,” Deputy Director of China Southern Power Grid Co. Ltd Li Xinhao told Dhaka Courier.


Their company is actively participating in the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative though grid interconnection is a very complex issue when it involves a third country.


“Especially when the third country and your destination country have some border issues,” said the official at the International Business Department of the company which is seriously looking for power cooperation with South Asian and the Southeast Asian regions.


He said they, as a company, always do what their central government directs them to do. “We can’t personally facilitate such collaboration. I believe it’s a state-to-state issue.”


Xinhao said they are currently considering establishing China-Myanmar inter-grid connection considering the evolving political and economic landscape. “May be in the future, Bangladesh and Myanmar will also reach a similar consensus following the growing electricity demand.”


Responding to a query, Xinhao said Bangladesh’s manufacturing sector is growing fast and Bangladesh, after a certain stage, will go for a high-end manufacturing path.


“High-end manufacturing requires high quality electricity and stable grid connection and smooth transmission sector,” he said sharing China’s experience in this particular transition.


He said development of power sector in a country is a precondition of economic development. “If you don’t have stable power and transmission system, it’ll affect overall production system.”


Responding to another question, Xinhao said they are willing to help Bangladesh develop its power sector. “We’re willing to share our technology, strength, management and overseas experience with Bangladesh.”


He said Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar economic corridor is a very important corridor in the Belt and Road initiative. “So, we’re very closely monitoring the growing power demand in Bangladesh.”


Xinhao said Bangladesh and China enjoy very good relations. “We know with your huge population, you’ve a growing power demand. So, we want to help you address your demand.”


The official also said China Southern Grid Company, which also invests, constructs and operate power networks in five important provinces in China, said they can build some power plants in Bangladesh to meet the urgent power demand in Bangladesh.


Media Cooperation


China is willing to strengthen bonding with Bangladesh through forging more cooperation in mass media sector and keeping peoples from the two countries informed about development efforts.


“We are willing to cooperate with Bangladesh. We need to learn from each other and keep us informed about our development efforts and rich cultural heritage,” Party Committee member and vice president of Hunan Broadcasting System (HBS) Yang Zhuang told Dhaka Courier at his office.


Sharing importance of One Belt, One Road initiative, Zhuang said they are ready to extend support to Bangladesh in the field of mass media and mentioned that China wants to move ahead together with its all friends in the region.


Responding to a question, the HBS vice president said they are planning to open branch stations in South and Southeast Asian countries to promote friendship and ensure free flow of information.


Party Committee member and deputy director of HBS broadcast media centre Zhao Quan said the relationship between Bangladesh and China in recent years reached to a new level.


“We want to inform the entire world about our friendship. We can even produce joint development programmes,” he said.


Executive Editor of HBS Hunan News Li Xin said HBS, previously known as Hunan People’s Broadcasting Station and Hunan Television Station, was established in 1950.


More Students Sought


China looks for the stronger presence of Bangladeshi students in their world-class universities to pursue education in career-oriented subjects to smartly compete in the global job market. Xinjiang University is one of the universities in China that welcomes students from Bangladesh.


“We want to see more students from Bangladesh as we peruse One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative to strengthen ties on all fronts,” Director of the International Cultural Exchange College of the Xinjiang University Prof Jiao Jian told Dhaka Courier at his office.


He said they give priority to students from neighbouring countries, too. “We’ve over 30,000 students at the university and 500 of them are international students.”


Jian said they will always give importance to Bangladeshi students considering the deep relations between Bangladesh and China. “Bangladeshi students can avail themselves of three types of full scholarship here, including Chinese government scholarships and the university’s own scholarship,” the Director explained.


Vice Director and Associate Professor of the Department of International Cooperation and Exchanges Wang Kui said they have a plan to establish partnership with Bangladeshi prominent universities to strengthen ties in education sector.


“We mainly want partnership with famous public universities in Bangladesh. If there’re very famous private universities, we’ll try to see whether we can go for partnership with them,” she told Dhaka Courier.


The Vice Director also said they have students from the USA, the UK, Russia, Japan and its neighbouring countries. “However, we’ve very few students from Bangladesh.”


Responding to a query, she said weather is one of the reasons behind the lower number of students from Bangladesh.


“We’ve very different weather with very long winter,” she said adding that lack of much knowledge about the quality of Chinese Universities might be another reason. Wang Kui said the Xinjiang University, established in 1924, has a long glorious history.


Addressing pollution problems


China is ready to help Bangladesh solve some of its major environmental problems to keep its sky bright for the future generation.


Hunan Yonker Investment Group, an environmental protection group blessed by President Xi Jinping, has expressed willingness to work with Bangladesh to solve the environmental problems that are affecting people.


“Surely, we want to work in Bangladesh. Our door is open to all as China is promoting One Belt, One Road initiative,” Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the group Huang Ying told Dhaka Courier.


She said they first want to know Bangladesh’s position. “We’ll take our decision once we find proper organisation to collaborate.”


Huang said cooperation with India on the issue is already going on. She said they will keep deepening research works in the environmental field, providing as well as implementing comprehensive environmental solutions.


“Yonker will never stop being united, innovative as well as brave enough to declare war against pollution by technology, diligence and courage,” said the company CEO at her office in Changsha.


The company is focusing on a number of areas, including waste energy, water treatment, clean energy and farmland restoration.


“The (Chinese) government is giving much importance to our company. We’ll build beautiful China through achieving our environmental dream,” Huang said.


She said Yonker Environmental Protection Co Ltd of the Group is the only listed environmental protection enterprise in the Hunan Province. “Yonker is a leader of the whole environmental protection industry supply chain,” Huang said.


In 2025, Yonker will obtain global influence power and be top global environmental protection company with total assets of over 300 billion (Chinese currency), officials said.


Responding to a question, Huang said Bangladesh is one of the leading apparels producers and their technology can be useful for Bangladesh RMG sector, too.


Housing Demand


A leading Chinese construction company is looking for reliable partners in Bangladesh and other potential markets in South Asia and beyond to address growing housing and high-rise building construction demands taking the advantage of modern technology.


“There’s very strong market demand. We’re looking for good partners in Bangladesh and other countries as part of our expansion plan,” Vice President of Broad Homes Industrial International Construction Co Ltd Bo Huang told Dhaka Courier at his office at Yuelu District, Changsha.


He said they are looking for such partners who have strong background in this sector. “We have to set up factories, too as we provide one-stop service.”


Explaining potential of business expansion plan globally, Huang said there is a growing need for houses and everybody wants a house.


“We’re the biggest company in the sector within China and now we’re expanding our business network,” he said, adding that their products are being exported to French, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Nigeria.


The official said the specialty of the company is that all things are done under the same roof — from building design to final construction. “Everything is being made ready in our factory. And then we install those in the construction site.”


He said shrinking labour force is one of the reasons to make everything centrally with the use of high technology avoiding manual labour.


“We are also constructing American, French and European style villas which are a bit expensive,” Huang said showing some of the completed projects.


He said these two or three storied buildings are strong enough against any natural disaster, including earthquake.


Responding to a question, Huang said they will keep in mind all risk factors associated with any specific country when they will start projects abroad.


We hope broader cooperation between Bangladesh and China will bring about more happiness and prosperity to the people of the two countries.

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