ISSN 2330-717X

Sri Lanka Can Gain By Following China-Bangladesh Eternal Ties Model
 – OpEd

By

Sri Lanka can benefit from following China-Bangladesh Eternal Ties model. This tie shows the path how a country can optimum benefit from strengthening ties with it’s friend. 

According to the media reports,  Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will pay an official visit to the Maldives and Sri Lanka.

“Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to the two South Asian countries come at the 50th anniversary of China-Maldives diplomatic relations, 65th anniversary of China-Sri Lanka diplomatic relations and the 70th anniversary of the Rubber-Rice Pact,” the Spokesman said during his regular briefing, reported APP.

China and Sri Lanka are traditional neighbours and essential partners with close high-level engagements, deep practical cooperation, broad common interests, and similar positions on many regional and international issues and challenges.

On the other hand, Bangladesh-China alliance or the country’s relations with China is not new. The path that connected Bangladesh with China is called the Silk Road, which is famous in history as the Silk Road. Since China and Bangladesh are both coastal countries, the exchange between them by sea has been excellent since ancient times.

Although China has been a strong naval and land power since ancient times, China has not colonized or occupied any other country. On the contrary, it has shown deep respect for the independence and sovereignty of all countries. That is why China’s relations with Bangladesh have deepened.

Diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and China started in 1975. Since the beginning of diplomatic relations between the two countries, it has become more and more intense and this relationship has passed the test of time. Excellent diplomatic relations between the two countries are recognized as role models, despite differences in political ideologies and social and cultural systems.

On the other hand,  Lanka was a popular stopover for merchants on their journeys between East and West. From the first centuries AD onwards, the island established constant and peaceful cultural, religious and economic relations with the Chinese Empire, and it was described in various accounts by Chinese travellers.

China has been cooperating in building economic infrastructure for our economic development, as well as in trade, agriculture, industry, and defense. In the case of Sri Lanka, we also see the Bangladesh’s footprint. So, Sri Lanka can benefit from following Bangladesh model.
Bangladesh’s geopolitical, geostrategic, and geo-economic position has become an important country in the regional strategic field. Bangladesh’s position is very important even in the global strategic field. Bangladesh is considered as the connecting bridge of South Asia with Southeast Asia. Bangladesh is located in the middle of two big countries in Asia, one of which is emerging India. The other is China, which is already the world’s second-largest economy.

India is a strong partner in the Bay of Bengal; The country considers the Bay of Bengal as its own lake and a maritime boundary for its political and diplomatic initiatives towards ASEAN. The United States has also emerged as a major partner; The mainstay of its geopolitical strategy in the Pacific. The United States has decided to deploy 60 percent of its naval power in the Pacific Ocean.

Bangladesh thinks China is a humble power; The country believes in peaceful coexistence and follows the path of peace. However, China is very conscious of its maritime security and has built its naval power accordingly on a priority basis.

The defense has always been an important issue in Sino-Bangladesh relations. In 2002, the two countries signed an agreement on defense cooperation. It is a general comprehensive agreement that covers the supply of military equipment, technology transfer, joint venture defense projects, military training, joint operations, development of logistical lines, counter-terrorism, disaster management, and other potential areas. We need to modernize and strengthen our armed forces; It needs to be updated in a timely manner. Bangladesh seeks China’s full support and cooperation under the aforementioned defense agreement to ensure the security of Bangladesh’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and expanded continental shelf and the protection of our marine resources, including valuable hydrocarbons at sea. With this goal in mind, Bangladesh has been trying to get China’s cooperation in equipping the navy with naval fleets, submarines undersea, and its own fighter jets in the air.

China has been a continuing source of military equipment to Sri Lanka, and is helping to modernize and expand the Sri Lanka Armed Forces. China exports military equipment to the Sri Lanka military including: ammunition, anti-tank guided missiles, rocket launchers and shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, deep penetration bombs and rockets, mortar ammunition, night vision devices, artillery, armor, mortars, security equipment, tanks, jets, naval vessels, radars, and communications equipment.

China also aids in the training of Sri Lankan military personnel.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited China in 2013 and Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping visited Bangladesh the same year. At that time, the Chinese government expressed its full assurance to cooperate with Bangladesh.

Bangladesh wants to establish a comprehensive relationship with China. Relations between the two countries by sea need to be improved and strengthened; For that, it is necessary to build a deep seaport towards Chittagong with the cooperation of China. Bangladesh also wants to establish road and rail links between Chittagong and Kunming through Myanmar. This will lead to the reopening of the ancient South Silk Road; The door to greater cooperation in trade, commerce, industry, economy, and national security will be opened.

During the Corona period, China showed that the ‘friend of danger is the real friend’.

During the Corona period, China has shown that the ‘friend of danger is the real friend’, at this time, China has bound Bangladesh with the belief that ‘the boat of love sails the mountain’. The country once again extended a helping hand to Bangladesh when vaccination diplomacy was in dire straits to get the corona vaccine. China has given 12 lakh vaccines to Bangladesh in two phases as a gift and has assured that the country will supply crores of vaccines to Bangladesh step by step commercially. It is expected that China will soon start vaccination production in a joint venture with Bangladesh in addition to supplying vaccines. The two countries are also discussing this. Lee Jimming, the country’s ambassador to Dhaka, said that the friend of danger is the real friend. Bangladesh will remember this friendship with China.

In other areas, the pace of cooperation between the two countries has increased with the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Bangladesh in 2016 and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to China in 2019. During the two visits, various agreements and memoranda of understanding were signed between the two countries in various fields including energy, technology, and infrastructure development. The country will invest about 25 billion in various sectors including economic infrastructure development in Bangladesh in the light of the One Way One Region program. China has been assisting Bangladesh in various developmental activities including the construction of the country’s first tunnel on the Padma Bridge and Karnafuli River, construction of thermal power plants in Chittagong and Khulna.

Last year, China offered duty-free access to 5,161 products to Bangladesh to reduce the trade deficit between the two countries. With this, Bangladesh got duty free facility on a total of 8,256 products. As a result, it is expected that the trade deficit between the two countries will be reduced.

Last year, Bangladesh and China exchanged greetings on the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. There, President Abdul Hamid said that Bangladesh attaches great importance to relations with China. He hopes that this relationship will be even stronger in the days to come.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Bangladesh-China friendly relations are based on respect, equality, strong political trust, and mutually beneficial cooperation. He said the two countries had written a new chapter of friendship during the Kovid-19 epidemic. The Belt and Road Initiative will work to take the strategic relationship between the two countries to new heights.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that the relationship of Chinese people with Bangladesh is thousands of years old and since that time there has been exchanging of knowledge, culture, and trade between these two ancient civilizations. Recalling the visits of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to China in 1952 and 1957, the Prime Minister said that Bangabandhu had praised the people of China in his book ‘Unfinished Autobiography’ and ‘The Way I Saw New China’. In addition to the economic and trade aspects of bilateral relations, China has been providing assistance during the Covid-19 epidemic, and this relationship will be further strengthened in the days to come. He thanked China for its continued support for Bangladesh’s socio-economic development and investment in infrastructure and for working with Bangladesh to resolve the Rohingya issue.

Bangladesh, which is facing diplomatic challenges and challenges with the Rohingya, also hopes for China’s cooperation in their repatriation. Bangladesh hopes that this Bangladesh-China-Myanmar trilateral initiative mediated by China will bring success in Rohingya repatriation. Putting the friend in danger, China will surely extend that hand of cooperation here as well. Due to this, it is now creating a security threat in the region.

However, the people of this country hope that the Bangladesh-China strategic relationship will move forward keeping in mind the words of China, ‘the boat of love sails the mountain’ and the friend of danger is the real friend.

China has changed a lot. That China of the seventies and eighties is no more. Today’s China is modern China, developed China, and here is a new generation, new leadership. But despite all the changes in China, relations between the two countries have not changed. The people of the two countries hope that this will not happen. ‘The relationship between China and Bangladesh is one of friendship, not just friendship. Through these words, Bangladesh-China hopes that the common beliefs and values ​​of the two nations and the spirit of true friendship will be manifested. Sri Lanka could benefit from following this kind of friendship model. 

*Jubeda Chowdhury is a freelance writer with a Master’s Degree in International Relations from the University of Dhaka.

Click here to have Eurasia Review's newsletter delivered via RSS, as an email newsletter, via mobile or on your personal news page.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *