Tuesday, 31 January, 2023
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China-Bangladesh Relations: Embrace an Even Brighter Future in the New Era

Yao Wen

China-Bangladesh Relations: Embrace an Even Brighter Future in the New Era
Yao Wen

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I have an indissoluble bond with Bangladesh. Having engaged in Asian affairs for over 20 years in the Chinese Foreign Ministry, I have learnt about the Pearl of the Bay of Bengal. Although I have only been here for a couple of weeks, I have seen Dhaka changing rapidly. Its people living and working in peace and prosperity, and I have experienced the vitality and vigour of this land. What impressed me most is the heartfelt friendship of the Bangladeshi people towards China and their warm and sincere eyes in every conversation, which gives me full confidence in the bright future of China-Bangladesh relations.

China-Bangladesh friendship was forged by the older generation of leaders and has been blessed with care and guidance from the leaders of the two countries. In October 2016, President Xi Jinping paid a historic visit to Bangladesh, elevating bilateral ties up to a strategic cooperative partnership. In July 2019, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also paid a landmark visit to China. Since then China-Bangladesh relations have entered a fast track of high speed, high quality development. The current China-Bangladesh relations can be summed up in three key words.

The first key word is friendship. The friendship between the two countries enjoys a solid historical, social and popular foundation. In 2021, when Bangladesh celebrated 50 years of its independence and birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, President Xi Jinping sent the video message of congratulations. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also sent a video message of congratulations on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China in July that year. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the two countries have supported and helped each other, showing that a friend in need is a friend indeed.

The second key word is cooperation. The all-round and cross-sector cooperation has always been serving as the foundation and guarantee for China-Bangladesh relations. Bangladesh is the first South Asian country supporting and responding to the Belt and Road Initiative. Through the joint efforts of China and Bangladesh, the Belt and Road Initiative has changed the face of Bangladesh and brought tangible benefits to the two peoples.

The third key word is potential. China has realised the first centenary goal and is now moving towards the second centenary goal of building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects. Meanwhile, Bangladesh, under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has also fulfilled its Vision 2021 on schedule and is making great strides towards the goals of achieving ‘Smart Bangladesh’ and ‘Sonar Bangla’. As our two countries share similar goals and visions, it is my conviction that China-Bangladesh relations will show even greater impetus for cooperation.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping and the 7th anniversary of China-Bangladesh Belt and Road cooperation. Over the past seven years, the Belt and Road Initiative has fixed wings to the dream of ‘Sonar Bangla’, injected impetus into Bangladesh’s economic growth and contributed to improving people’s well-being in Bangladesh.

Since 2020, a large number of landmark projects have been completed, including the third phase of the Bangladeshi Government Basic Network Project, the Bangabandhu Bangladesh-China Friendship Exhibition Centre, the Payra Power Plant, the 8th Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge, the Dasher Gandhi Sewage Treatment Plant and the Padma Mulch-function Bridge, known as the ‘Dream Bridge’ by the Bangladeshi people. Cooperation on major projects is still on the horizon in 2023, with the completion of the Karnaphuli river tunnel, the Modernisation of Telecommunication Network project, the S Alam Power Plant, the single point mooring (SPM) with double pipeline project, and the Padma Bridge Rail Link and so on. China will work together with Bangladesh to make the ‘Bangladeshi chapter’ of building a community with a shared future for mankind more splendid.

China has always been the most reliable and trustworthy long-term strategic partner of Bangladesh. At present, both China and Bangladesh are at a critical stage of development and revitalisation, and both are committed to achieving the development goals of each country. China will, as always, go hand in hand with Bangladesh to create a better future.

First, we need to pursue common development. China is ready to align development strategies with Bangladesh, share development experience and advanced technologies, accelerate industrialisation, modernisation and digitisation of Bangladesh, and help Bangladesh improve people’s livelihood and achieve sustainable development.

Second, we need to promote common security. China firmly supports Bangladesh in exploring a development path that suits to its national conditions, supports Bangladesh in safeguarding national independence and dignity, and opposes external interference. Both China and Bangladesh support all countries in taking the path of peaceful development and are committed to maintaining regional peace and stability.

Third, we need to promote common values. There is no uniform model for democracy. The common values of mankind, peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy, and freedom, embody the greatest common divisor of the values of all countries. China and Bangladesh can strengthen solidarity and make progress together.

Fourth, we need to shoulder common responsibilities. In the face of changing times, China and Bangladesh is supposed to understand and support each other on issues concerning each others’ core interests and major concerns, and jointly uphold international fairness and justice, the interests of developing countries and genuine multilateralism.

As the 16th Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh, I am committed to implementing the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, strengthening strategic communication between leaders and various levels of the two countries, enhancing cooperation between political parties, parliaments, think tanks and media, extensively engaging with friends from all walks of life. I stand ready to understand and respond vigorously to the expectations of the Chinese and Bangladeshi people on bilateral relations, constantly exploring new growth potential, so as to polish the golden sign of China-Bangladesh friendship and ensure the steady and long-term growth of China-Bangladesh friendly cooperation.

 

The writer is the Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh