Bangladesh and China have showed interest in contributing to the regional connectivity in South and Southeast Asia under the auspices of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of China.
At the 12th Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) held at state guesthouse ‘Padma’ in Dhaka on Saturday, they also expressed satisfaction with the existing defence cooperation and discussed possibilities of regular staff-level talks and specialised training programmes.
Sun Weidong, who is visiting Bangladesh after 10 years, said he is very much impressed to see Bangladesh’s tremendous development achievements carried out by the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Both the delegations discussed a wide range of issues of mutual interests and cooperation in multilateral forums.
The Chinese side reiterated its appreciation to Bangladesh for its continued support to One China Policy.
They recalled the recent high-level political exchanges and meetings that have further deepened the strategic partnership of cooperation between the two countries.
Bangladesh once again thanked China for its support for vaccines to manage the Covid-19 pandemic.
The two sides reviewed the progress of different quality infrastructure projects in Bangladesh and welcomed the upcoming inauguration of mega projects like the Bangabandhu Tunnel under the River Karnaphuli and the Padma Bridge Rail Link.
The two sides discussed ways to enhance the exports to China by utilising the Duty and Quota Free (DFQF) access to 98 percent of the products, which came to effect on September 1, 2022.
The Chinese side expressed particular interest in importing tropical fruits like mango, jackfruit, guava and frozen foods from Bangladesh in compliance with necessary quality specifications.
Bangladesh called for including other export items like vegetables, pharmaceuticals, rawhide, footwear, non-knit apparels, etc. in the DFQF coverage to minimise the existing trade imbalance with China.
The Chinese vice-minister assured of encouraging the Chinese firms to invest in the Chinese Special Economic Zone in Chattogram.
They also advised timely notification of interest with the Chinese Civil Aviation Authority for resuming the Dhaka-Guanzhu direct flight by Biman Bangladesh Airlines.
The two sides agreed to launch regular Consular Consultations with a view to addressing visa-related issues, especially for Bangladeshi students.
Bangladesh expressed its interest in working together with China on innovation in digital technologies and biotechnologies.
China offered its support to build capacity for addressing emerging challenges like online gambling and drug trafficking.
The two sides agreed in principle to have dedicated dialogue on public security issues.
Bangladesh thanked China for sharing meteorological satellite information during natural calamities like cyclone and flood.
They also discussed other multilateral and regional issues, including Rohingya crisis.
The Chinese side reiterated that it will facilitate the early, safe, sustainable and voluntary repatriation of Rohingyas to Rakhine state of Myanmar from Bangladesh.
Sun Weidong mentioned that an early repatriation will be beneficial for Bangladesh, Myanmar and the whole region.
The Chinese side appreciated the initiatives of Bangladesh to arrange the ‘Go and See’ visit in Myanmar and ‘Come and Talk’ visit in Bangladesh by the respective delegations of Bangladesh and Myanmar to facilitate the repatriation of the first batch under the Pilot Project.
The foreign secretary thanked China for their cooperation and emphasised on Bangladesh’s ongoing efforts to arrange continued voluntary and sustainable repatriation engaging the friendly countries, regional and international organisations.