China keen to build deep seaport in Bangladesh : President’s visit to boost ties: Envoy , The News Today, October 4, 2016
Reiterating China’s support to help Bangladesh build deep seaport, its Ambassador here Ma Mingqiang on Monday said Chinese President Xi Jinping’s forthcoming Dhaka visit will take Bangladesh-China relations to a new height, reports UNB. “I can assure you there’ll be a number of documents to be signed. You’ll see the relations will really be upgraded to new height,” said Ambassador Ma while responding to queries in a seminar at a city hotel. He, however, said he cannot tell anything specific mentioning that it is still too early to say anything about that. The Chinese Ambassador said China will be glad to be partner of any development projects in Bangladesh, including building deep seaport. He also said China is open to partner with third parties wherever the deep seaport project takes place. On March 21, the Chinese Ambassador made it clear that China is willing to cooperate with other countries in helping Bangladesh build its first deep seaport at any location. “We’re certainly here to cooperate. Of course, this cooperation is open, and it’s not exclusive. We’re willing to cooperate with any country.” The envoy, however, mentioned that Sonadia could be the most ideal place for deep seaport as 80 percent of Bangladesh’s export and import are done through Chittagong and such port, to be built anywhere, will be Bangladeshi port. Bangladesh government no longer considers the previously proposed Sonadia site but is proceeding with Payra deep seaport in Patuakhali. The Chinese envoy said China also wants to be partner of Bangladesh in blue economy development through cooperation in the areas of capacity building, exploring sea sources and other mutually agreed ways. Responding to a question on India-Pakistan relations, Ambassador Ma said China maintains “strategic relations” with India and China, of course maintains, very good relations with Pakistan, as well. He said both countries are China’s partners and China wants to see these countries solve their issues by themselves. The Ambassador said China always favours settlement of issues through “consultations and diplomacy” instead of through arms and China will not take any side. Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) arranged the seminar titled ‘Bangladesh-China Relations: Opportunities and Challenges’ with BEI President Farooq Sobhan in the chair. Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Dr Gowher Rizvi spoke on the occasion as the chief guest while State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam attended it as a special guest. Chairman of Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) Munshi Faiz Ahmad also spoke. Dr Rizvi said Bangladesh’s relations with China have reached a new level in recent times and Bangladesh is looking forward to institutionalising the extraordinary progress in the coming days. State Minister Shahriar Alam said it was Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who had laid the foundations of the bridge between two peoples, two lands in the modern setting. He recalled the visits of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to China in 1952 and 1957, and his fond reminiscences of his memorable experiences of the great land of China and its wonderful people. He said the depth and breadth of the traditional friendship and the long-standing relations and engagements between China and Bangladesh are enormous. China has emerged as the biggest source of import for Bangladesh since 2007. In 2015-16, two-way trades between the two countries has crossed US$ 9 billion with US$ 8223.20 billion import from China and US$ 791.03 million export. The State Minister said a number of measures are being considered by both the countries to narrow the trade gap. “China has proposed a Free Trade Area (FTA) with Bangladesh and we’re working on preparing for doing a feasibility study for this at this moment.” He said Bangladesh appreciates the proactive role of China in advancing the BCIM initiative into the BCIM Economic Corridor (BCIM EC). “We’re keen on enhancing connectivity in the region.” Farooq Sobhan talked about various aspects of the relations between the two countries and hoped that there will be a ‘dramatic transformation’ in investment and bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the coming days. He also said a substantial investment will come into Bangladesh from China following establishment of two dedicated special economic zones for Chinese investors. “We see enormous potential.” The Chinese President is scheduled to arrive here on the morning of October 13 or 14 on a two-day State visit. During the visit, the Chinese President will have meetings with President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina apart from other engagements. A Chinese advance delegation has already visited Bangladesh and discussed various aspects of the forthcoming visit of Xi Jinping, including security aspects. The Chinese President may announce a package involving several billion dollars for the next couple of years for Bangladesh development projects, diplomatic sources here said. After the Dhaka visit, the Chinese President will leave for India to attend the BRICS Summit which will be held in Goa, India on October15-16. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will also attend the outreach meeting there at the invitation of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.