Bangladesh, China to work together with patience to achieve development goals

Bangladesh and China have agreed to work with "patience" to achieve their development goals ignoring "provocations" and overcoming "obstructions" , noting that peace and stability are required for a country's further progress.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi spent less than 18 hours in Dhaka during his August 6-7 visit which was described as "politically very significant" by his Bangladesh counterpart Dr AK Abdul Momen.

The Chinese side assured that they will always remain beside Bangladesh in its development journey and will work together to take the existing good relations to a new height.

Foreign Minister Momen saw Wang off at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport and briefed the media at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on August 7. He said there has been discussion on the Global Development Initiative (GDI) but no talks on Global Security Initiative (GSI), Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) or new Chinese loans. Bangladesh will further study the proposal regarding the GDI as it keeps receiving various proposals from its partner countries.

Wang, who doubles as the Chinese State Councilor, had an hour-long bilateral meeting with Momen at a city hotel before his meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her official residence Ganobhaban.

During the meeting, he said China will continue supporting Bangladesh's development journey, describing Dhaka as their "strategic development partner".

The Chinese foreign minister said Beijing will support Dhaka on all issues at international forums too, said PM's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim.

The Chinese foreign minister said Bangladesh made unprecedented development under the leadership of PM Hasina. He said China will also extend support to Bangladesh for the development of the digital economy.

At the meeting, the prime minister sought China's help to resolve the Rohingya issue, saying the displaced people are an extra burden for Bangladesh.

In reply, the Chinese minister said his country expects that the issue will be solved through the bilateral discussions between Bangladesh and Myanmar. If it needs tripartite intervention over the issue, China will play its role, he added.

The Bangladesh side sought Chinese efforts at expediting development projects agreed earlier for their timely implementation.

Momen said the two sides also discussed ways to minimize trade gap between the two countries and China has agreed to add more products in the list of duty-free access to the Chinese market from September.

The Chinese side agreed to issue visas for Bangladeshi students paving their return to China immediately. Currently, around 5000 Bangladeshi students studying in China are waiting to return to the campuses there.

4 Cooperation Documents Signed

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md. Shahriar Alam said Bangladesh and China signed four bilateral documents to boost cooperation between the two countries.

The signed documents are certificate of hand-over and acceptance of the China-aided project of the 8th Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge, MoU on the plan of special assistance of disaster prevention and reduction; cultural and tourism exchange programme for the period from 2023 to 2027 and MoU between University of Dhaka and First Institute of Oceanography, Ministry of Natural Resources of China for cooperation on marine science and technology.

Rohingya Crisis

"We must stop it (worsening situation in Rohingya camp)," Shahriar said while responding to a question on the Rohingya issue.

He said the Chinese side said they are committed and they will remain committed and will do their best to find the solution to the Rohingya crisis.

China has said his country is sincerely working to find a solution to the Rohingya crisis terming Myanmar a difficult country to handle.

"Myanmar is a difficult country. We are sincerely working to resolve the crisis and will continue our efforts in the future. He (Minister Wang) stated it very clearly. It's a difficult country and difficult to handle," Agriculture Minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque told reporters quoting the Chinese Foreign Minister as saying.

Razzaque, who received the Chinese Foreign Minister upon his arrival at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on August 6, conveyed to Minister Wang that Bangladesh is unable to bear such a big burden as the country has limited resources.

The Agriculture Minister said there is an impact on social security and social stability of the country due to the presence of over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Bangladesh.

"It's a big threat to our national security," he told the Chinese Foreign Minister after welcoming him to Bangladesh.

"One-China" Policy

The Chinese Foreign Minister thanked Bangladesh for reiterating Dhaka's firm adherence to 'One China' policy and sought Bangladesh on its side as Beijing seeks a "shared future" for all the countries.

The State Minister said Minister Wang explained those issues in detail to Bangladesh, noting that some countries "misunderstand and misinterpret" them and they need to follow international rules.

Before the Chinese Foreign Minister's visit, Bangladesh reiterated her firm adherence to 'One China' policy and urged the parties concerned to resolve their differences in accordance with the UN Charter and through dialogue.

"We hope it will not further aggravate...the world can't afford to have another crisis," said Shahriar Alam, adding that the world is going through enough crises.

Bangladesh urged all parties concerned to exercise utmost restraint and refrain from any actions that may aggravate tensions and undermine peace and stability in the region and beyond, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Minister Wang visited Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi-32 and paid tribute to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He signed visitors' book there. Shahriar Alam received the Chinese Foreign Minister at the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum.

Shared Benefits

The long-standing friendship between Bangladesh and China is accelerating the development of both countries, promoting common prosperity and shared benefits, says the Chinese Embassy in Dhaka.

"We believe this friendship will take the two countries to unlimited heights. Happy Friendship Day, dear Bangladesh," it said in a post on its verified Facebook page.

Both countries have considered each other indispensable partners for the past 47 years, with a strong belief in the principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and mutual non-aggression, said the embassy highlighting non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence.

Wang elaborated on China's standing on Taiwan and appreciated Bangladesh's consistent one-China policy.

Magic Tool

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has stressed that the principle of non-interference in internal affairs is the "golden rule" for state-to-state relations and the "magic tool" for developing countries to safeguard their sovereignty and security.

"We appreciate those countries for their understanding and support for China's position," said the Chinese Foreign Ministry in a media release.

As unilateral bullying acts happen from time to time in today's world, the international community should reach an even clearer consensus and speak even louder, so as to jointly uphold the basic norms governing international relations and international law, and safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of all developing countries, said media release circulated by the Chinese Embassy here on Monday.

The world needs China's strength and voice, and Bangladesh will stand firmly with China, China said highlighting discussions between the two Foreign Ministers.

Some countries do not want to see developing countries grow and become strong, and do everything possible to create various obstacles, according to a media release on the meeting between Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

The two sides agreed on strengthening cooperation in infrastructure, economic and industrial parks, and people-to-people and cultural exchanges, to expand cooperation in local currency settlement, 5G and clean energy.

Wang Yi announced that China's grant of zero-tariff treatment for 98 percent of taxable items of Bangladeshi products exported to China will officially take effect on September 1.

China welcomes more superior products from Bangladesh to the Chinese market, the media release reads.

Bangladesh expects to strengthen the alignment and cooperation between the "Sonar Bangla" dream and the Belt and Road Initiative, to speed up the achievement of Bangladesh's vision and goals, it said.

Exports to China

The extension of duty-free treatment to 98% of tariff lines will help Bangladesh to further increase its exports to China, the Chinese Embassy in Dhaka said Tuesday. A tariff line is World Trade Organization-jargon for a product as defined in lists of tariff rates.

Wang during his recent visit to Bangladesh, announced that the duty-free treatment of 98% of goods in the different tariff lines originating from Bangladesh will take into effect on September 1.

This will further help to boost Bangladesh's export to China, said the Embassy. But what if the new products added to the list find no demand in China? That is why some perusal of the new tariff lines, and just how many the 1% rise represents, is important.

China has been providing duty-free facility to 97 percent of Bangladeshi products, including all garment products, since July 1, 2021. We now know that 383 new products, including leather items, have been added to the list now, thereby expanding the benefit to 98 percent of the products.

Here the Chinese side is keen to point to the addition of leather products from Bangladesh that will now enjoy duty free access to the huge Chinese market. Several kinds of basic leather products added into the 98% zero-tariff lines are "good news" to Bangladeshi exporters in the leather industry, which the Chinese have been really playing up as an industry with huge potential in Bangladesh.

Businessmen in the leather industry have already been focusing on the opportunity provided by the duty-free treatment, according to the Chinese Embassy.

Programs are even underway to facilitate Chinese manufacturing enterprises related to leather products to form business relations with Bangladesh's leather exporters, it said.

Bangladesh has many high-quality agricultural, livestock and fishery products too, many of which have been added to the list.

For example, China said, the national fish of Bangladesh, the hilsa, is among both the 97% and the 98% zero tariff lines, and has already acquired the inspection and quarantine access to the Chinese market.

Bangladesh's mango, jackfruit, guave, honey, and beef are all listed as duty free products in both the 97% and the 98% tariff lines.

Varied by different categories of tariff lines, compared with duty-free treatment on 97% tariff lines, there are several hundred products now added to the list in getting to the 98%.

Some of these are agricultural products, crude oil of groundnut, crude cotton-seed oil, liquid crystal display panel, paper product, saloon cars and chemicals, are all included.

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