China wants to be number one investor in Bangladesh, Prothom Alo, 3 October 2016

China, Bangladesh’s largest trading partner, will soon emerge as the number one foreign investor in the country, Chinese ambassador Ma Mingqiang said on Monday.

He came up with an optimistic note ahead of the planned visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping to Bangladesh on 13 or 14 October.

“I have all reason to believe that within a very short time, China will be a major investor in Bangladesh… We will be number one investor,” he told a seminar in Dhaka.

Currently, the United States is the top investor in Bangladesh and Chinese investments, too, are increasing.

However, raising concern over its trade gap of US$8 billion, when two-way trade exceeded US$9 billion a year, Dhaka sought remedial measures from Beijing.

In view of the ongoing changes in the world’s ‘political landscape’, ambassador Ma Mingqiang underlined the importance of reviewing bilateral relations.

“It’s high time to take stock of our relations, of the situation well,” he said, expressing the hope that the visit of the Chinese president would make the ‘trusted’ relations even closer.

Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) organised the seminar on “Bangladesh-China Relations: Opportunities and Challenges” at a city hotel to highlight the importance of president Xi Jinping’s visit.

The prime minister’s foreign affairs adviser Gowher Rizvi appreciated China’s contribution to infrastructure building in Bangladesh and also Beijing’s understanding with Dhaka.

The discussants, including former diplomats and retired military officials, termed the scheduled visit of the Chinese president significant and called for widening cooperation in a number of areas such as construction of deep sea port and exploiting marine resources.

“We have all the possibilities here. It’s now in the hands of the policymakers how to move ahead, how to bring these relations even closer, how we can deliver more benefits to our peoples,” said the ambassador.

He mentioned that a number of documents would be signed during the visit of the Chinese president.

State minister for foreign affairs M Shahriar Alam sought China’s low-cost financing, supply of technology, management skills, marketing access in the form of brand equity, and support for enhancing capacity to building infrastructure.

BEI president former ambassador Farooq Sobhan pointed out that Chinese investments in Bangladesh would reach US$30 billion, should all the proposed projects go ahead in the coming years.

He also mentioned that Bangladesh’s target of achieving $50 billion exports would be achieved if China and India provide Bangladesh smooth access of Bangladeshi products to their markets.

In reply to a query on China’s planned dam on the Brahmaputra river in Tibet, the Chinese ambassador claimed that it would not harm countries in the downstream as China would not withdraw waters rather than regulating water course.

On a deep sea port, as proposed in Sonadia, he said Bangladesh would be the owner of it and China wanted to work on it.