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A new beginning

  • Published at 02:27 am October 15th, 2016
A new beginning
Xi met with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office, launching new vistas of cooperation that were hailed as a turning point in Bangladesh-China relationship. During the meeting, the heads of the two governments signed 26 agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) on different projects, including boosting cooperation in counter-terrorism and infrastructure development and energy cooperation. Starting at 3:15pm yesterday, the meeting ended around 4:15pm. President Xi held a press briefing after meeting. He said China was ready to work with Bangladesh and extend more cooperation in big projects here. Afterward, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also took the podium and briefed journalists. She hoped that with cooperation from China, Bangladesh would be able to reach its goal to become a middle-income country by 2021. She expressed the hope that the friendship between the two countries would grow stronger in the coming days. Chinese President Xi Jinping in his briefing said Bangladesh-China relations were now at a new historical turning point and heading towards a promising future. “China-Bangladesh cooperation will deliver more fruits for the people of the two countries, and will contribute to peace and stability and development in the region,” he said. Xi said they had agreed to elevate China-Bangladesh relationship from a ‘Closer Comprehensive Partnership of Cooperation’ to a ‘Strategic Partnership of Cooperation.’ Both sides also agreed to increase high-level exchanges and strategic communication so that bilateral relations move ahead at even a higher level, he said. Terming his meeting with Prime Minister Hasina ‘warm and productive,’ the Chinese president said they reached agreements on a number of important issues. “We have agreed to jointly advance the road and belt initiative,” Xi said, adding that they had also agreed to launch a joint feasibility study on China-Bangladesh Free Trade Agreement to strengthen trade and investment cooperation. The Chinese president laid emphasis on enhancing practical cooperation in key areas such as infrastructure, production capacity, energy and power, transportation, ICT and agriculture. He said China would continue to do its best in providing capital, technical and human resources to carry out close cooperation on projects to support economic and social development of Bangladesh. The two countries also agreed to designate the year 2017 as the year of ‘exchange and friendship’ between Bangladesh and China during which colorful events will be held to carry forward the friendship. They also laid emphasis on institutionalising cooperation on maritime affairs, counter-terrorism, advance the BCIM Economic Corridor and increase communication and coordination on international and regional issues. “China is ready to work with Bangladesh as friends and partners with trust and support to each other,” said the Chinese president. Prime Minister Hasina said: “Today, we have elevated our ‘Closer Comprehensive Partnership of Cooperation’ to a ‘Strategic Partnership for Cooperation’ and under this strategic partnership, we have agreed to work towards socio-economic advancement of the peoples of our two countries.” She said they reached a consensus on cooperation in key areas such as trade and investment, infrastructure, industry, power, and energy, information and communication technology and agriculture. They witnessed the signing of 27 agreements and MoUs of cooperation that cover, among others, trade, investment, blue economy, BCIM-EC, roads, and bridges, railways, power, maritime, ICT, Industrial production, capacity building and skill development. Both leaders also unveiled the plaques of six projects adding that the signing of these instruments and the unveiling of these plaques created a platform for the two countries to cooperate at a higher plane. The prime minister said her government’s efforts today were aimed at attaining the goals of becoming a knowledge-based middle-income country by 2021 and eventually a developed country by 2041. She also said that they had very fruitful discussions on bilateral, regional and international issues of common interest. “We have reiterated our commitment to support the ‘One China Policy.’ We have agreed to work closely and support each other on regional and international issues of mutual interest.” Elaborating on the enhanced security cooperation agreed by the two leaders, Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque said the two countries would now work together to fight terrorism and militancy, particularly by capacity building and exchange of information and good practices. “A MoU on the issue has been signed after the talks,” he said.mDuring the talks, Shahidul said, the Chinese side hinted at making special investment in RMG and jute sectors. As part of a consensus on enhanced economic cooperation, the two countries inked a framework agreement on production capacity building after the talks, the foreign secretary said, adding that under the deal, the Chinese government would assist Bangladesh in technology transfer, capacity building, training and establishment of new entities. He said China would make an investment involving a huge amount in the ICT sector in Bangladesh to help materialise its vision of building Digital Bangladesh. Haque said during the talks the Chinese president highly appreciated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s leadership and Bangladesh’s stunning achievement in different sectors under her able stewardship. The foreign secretary said the two leaders pledged to work together to implement the sustainable development goals. Maritime was a new area where the two countries agreed for collaboration and the two countries signed a MoU for cooperation on blue economy. Shahidul said the foreign ministers of the two countries signed another MoU to support the ‘One Belt One Road’, a connectivity initiative of the Chinese president. The foreign secretary said several other MoUs were signed in the private sector and that these would strengthen ties between the two nation’s private sectors particularly in the areas of trade and investment. Asked about the estimated financial value of the agreements and MoUs, he said: “You will have to wait a few days to know about the total financial involvement of the projects.” But he said the two leaders agreed that the development of the people of the two countries was most crucial for bilateral ties. Without any elaboration, the foreign secretary said an agreement was signed on economic and technical cooperation and a framework agreement on road and tunnel. President Xi led a 13-member high powered Chinese delegation at the talks. They included two senior members of Politburo of the Central Committee of Communist Party of China Wang Huning and Li Zhanshu, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Minister of National Development and Reform Commission Xu Shaoshi, Finance Minister Lou Jiwei, Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng and Governor of the People’s Bank of China Zhou Xiaochuan. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina led the Bangladesh side that comprised of Finance Minister AMA Muhith, Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed, Public Administration Minister Syed Ashraful Islam, Minister for Road Transport and Bridges Obaidul Quader, Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal. Upon his arrival at the Prime Minister’s Office around 3pm, Sheikh Hasina received Xi at the Tiger Gate of the PMO and then the two leaders held a tête-à-tête for about ten minutes. Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Dhaka this morning on a historic state visit amid high hopes in Bangladesh that it will be the beginning of a historic new journey towards opening up a new horizon in bilateral relations.
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