Chinese President Xi Jinping said he was ready to better coordinate the two countries ‘strategies with the leaders of Bangladesh and jointly promote the construction of his multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to take the two countries’ strategic partnership to a new level to lift.
Xi made the remarks in an exchange of congratulatory messages with his counterpart in Bangladesh, Mohammad Abdul Hamid, on the 45th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations on Sunday.
In his message, Xi welcomed the steady and long-term friendship and stated that he was ready to work with Hamid to better align development strategies with Bangladesh, to strengthen cooperation within the framework of the BRI and to advance the strategic cooperation partnership between China and Bangladesh to a new level, official media reported.
With over USD 26 billion in Chinese investments and USD 38 billion in financing commitments, Bangladesh is one of the largest recipients of the massive Chinese infrastructure project.
China has also made 97 percent of Bangladesh’s exports duty free by adding 5,161 more items to its existing list of 3,095 duty free products.
The BRI is trying to build rail, sea and road connections from Asia to Europe and Africa as part of a revitalization of the old Silk Road trade routes.
The issues related to BRI, formerly known as One Belt One Road (OBOR), have been a major point of contention between India and China as part of the corridor goes through Pakistani-occupied Kashmir.
In addition to Pakistan, where China initiated over $ 60 billion as part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), China has stepped up its massive infrastructure investments in Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives and raised concerns about its growing influence in India’s immediate neighborhood reinforced.
The BRI is President Xi’s primary initiative aimed at cementing China’s global influence.
However, the initiative has sparked allegations, particularly from the United States, of debt diplomacy after Sri Lanka handed over its port in Hambantota to a state-owned Chinese company in 2017 to lease it for 99 years as part of a $ 1.2 billion debt swap. Malaysia has also put several projects on hold under the BRI, citing a cost reassessment.
In his message to Hamid, Xi also said the two countries had worked together to fight COVID-19.
Previously, China had sent a medical team to Bangladesh to share its experience of dealing with coronavirus, which first appeared in Wuhan in December last year.
Bangladesh is also one of over a dozen countries where the final phase of clinical trials of Chinese vaccines is underway.
In his message, Hamid said that the relationship between Bangladesh and China is developing rapidly, covering cooperation in key areas that Dhaka attaches great importance to, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
He expressed his deep appreciation for China’s continued support to Bangladesh in its socio-economic development progress, adding that he believes the close and friendly relations between the two countries will continue to deepen in the future.
Also on Sunday, the Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang exchanged messages of congratulations with the Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Li said in his message that China is ready to deepen practical cooperation with Bangladesh in various fields and to promote the steady and sustainable development of the strategic partnership between China and Bangladesh in order to bring better benefit to the two countries and their people.
For her part, Hasina said that the strategic partnership of cooperation between Bangladesh and China emerged from the proven friendship and cooperation between the two countries.
The increased cooperation between Bangladesh and China has unleashed enormous potential for maintaining peace, security and stability in the region and even around the world, Hasina said, according to Xinhua News.