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‘China reluctant about Teesta project due to sensitivity’

  • Sun Online Desk
  • 14th October, 2022 12:54:07 AM
  • Print news

Dhaka, Oct 13: Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming on Thursday said his country is serious about implementing the Teesta River Comprehensive Management Project, reports UNB.

He said China considers the project to be significant after Bangladesh formally proposed it, but also has a sense of reluctance due to the sensitivities it contains.

“But I have to be frank… The Chinese side is a bit reluctant about this project. The reason is the sensitivity we sensed,” the Chinese ambassador said at a seminar on “National Image of China in Bangladesh”, organized by the Centre for Genocide Studies (CGS) at a Dhaka hotel. 

In July 2020, the Ministry of Water Resources sought a $983 million loan from China to implement the project, in a letter to Bangladesh’s Economic Relations Division. Bangladesh government would be bearing 15% of the total project cost (about $130 million).

The project involves dredging the Teesta river for navigability, building strong embankment, townships, industries on the two sides of the river, water reservoir and irrigation.

Responding to a question on possible engagement of China in a Teesta-related project, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen recently said they have not received any such proposal officially yet.

He, however, mentioned a French experts group’s visit (1988-89) who worked on a comprehensive study (including Teesta) on how floods can be controlled in Bangladesh.

The project could not be taken at that time due to lack of required funds but recently, he said, they have heard about funding for the old project.

Momen encouraged reporters to ask the relevant ministry, saying they might know at what stage it is now.

On October 9, Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming visited Rangpur division and talked to local people at the Teesta Barrage.

On October 10, the ambassador visited the bridge project under construction by CSCEC over Teesta River in Gaibandha district of Rangpur division.

“Fortunately, all the messages that I got from that trip is extremely positive,” he said.

The ambassador said he will send message to his colleagues in Beijing that people were eager about the project – something that will help build confidence among the Chinese officials.

On the issues of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, Jiming said there have been narratives and news “cooked up by western countries”.

He said China is not suppressing any certain minority, namely the Uyghur, which is one of 56 ethnic groups in China.

“Chinese authorities imprisoned the separatists and terrorists as per the national law,” Jiming said. CGS Director Prof Imtiaz Ahmed presented a keynote. Former ambassadors Nasim Firdaus, Munshi Faiz Ahmad, Dhaka University Professors MM Akash and Dr Delwar Hossain also spoke.