ISSN 2330-717X

How Significant Was Chinese Foreign Minister’s Visit To Bangladesh? – OpEd

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Wang Yi, the Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councillor, has ended his seventeen-hour trip to Dhaka, Bangladesh. Mr. Wang with AK Abdul Momen, his counterpart from Bangladesh conducted discussions about bilateral, regional, and global issues during his visit.  He also paid the honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina a courtesy visit. During his visit he stated that his nation will continue to support Bangladesh’s development and referred to Dhaka as a “strategic development partner”.

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The visiting Foreign Minister spoke about the pressing issue affecting Bangladesh, the “Rohingya Crisis,” and expressed that China is very concerned and is honestly trying to find a solution describing Myanmar as a challenging country to deal with. He briefed by the officials that the presence of more than 1.1 million Rohingyas in Bangladesh is causing a serious social security and social stability dilemma and is a threat to Bangladesh’s national security. Even while Bangladesh has made a tremendous effort to promote the Rohingyas repatriation in all diplomatic, bilateral, and international forums, hardly any notable support has come from its well-wishers. However, China has consistently reaffirmed its commitment to mediate between Bangladesh and Myanmar on the Rohingya issue if required and notably, has joined the negotiation process in 2018 through a trilateral meeting. However, Bangladesh needs China’s more active participation in negotiation table for successful repatriation of persecuted Rohingyas to their homeland.

The good news is that Bangladesh will now have 99 percent duty-free export facilities in China, up from 98 percent earlier. The decision was made during a bilateral meeting between Bangladeshi Foreign Minister and Chinese Foreign Minister. From September 1 of this year, the facility will be in use. But it is disappointing that Bangladesh was unable to gain from quota-free access to such sizable china’s import market of $2.69 trillion due to a lack of product diversity and market understanding. According to experts, if Bangladesh can only capture 1% of the Chinese import market, it can generate $20 to $25 billion annually, which appears inevitable for an economy that will leave the Least Developed Country category in 2026. Before LDC graduation, it is necessary to gain a sizeable market share in China through product familiarization in order to facilitate exports even when quota-free access may not be available.

Besides, Wang expresses appreciation to Bangladesh for restating its stance on the “One China” policy. In fact, historically Bangladesh has maintained a strong stance against any unusual escalation anywhere in the globe. Bangladesh is not an exception to the global economic turmoil that has been caused from the COVID pandemic to the most recent invasion of Ukraine. It is imperative that we resist any further escalation that could worsen the global economy said Bangladeshi leaders.

Bangladesh and China on Sunday signed four Memorandum of Understanding to boost cooperation between two countries over the transfer of 8th China- Bangladesh Friendship Bridge, Disaster management, cultural exchange (renewal) and marine science cooperation. As Bangladesh is a lower riparian country, it often suffers as climate victim from the non-considering decision of Upper riparian countries. Recent news of Dam development in China’s the Yarlung Tsangpo and retaliatory dam in Indian Brahmaputra river raises concern as water flow to Bangladesh may hamper while it is common International River. The same river is named Brahmaputra in Bangladesh and India and Yarlung Tsangpo in China. So, where there is a shared interest, such as common rivers or flood occurrences, Bangladesh must be shared with information about any ongoing development. In addition, Bangladesh may work to share expertise of Chinese marine success to assess oil and gas extraction from sea blocks of Bay of Bengal to reduce energy tension in the long run.

Another astounding development comes from the Chinese Foreign Minister’s statement as he said Bangladeshi students will able return to China from 8 August, 22 and their visas will be provided in accordance with their return. Bangladeshi students studying in China who have comeback to Bangladesh in leave during COVID period have felt upset for the past two years as they cannot attend in person classes due to VISA restrictions that made it difficult for foreign students to enter China. Approximately 11,000 of Bangladeshi students studying in China make up placing them in 12th of overall number of foreign students studding there. Bangladesh should endeavour to increase student scholarships from China and improve knowledge exchange at the scholar level.

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There is ample scope of cooperation between the growing economy of Bangladesh and leading economy of china. Long-lasting, flourishing Sino-Bangladesh relations may be facilitated by planned experience sharing and active engagement of both countries.

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