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The Upcoming Election is an Internal Affair of Bangladesh

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🕐 2023-12-31 13:33:43

The Upcoming Election is an Internal Affair of Bangladesh

Rabb Majumder


The relationship between Bangladesh and China was characterized by a growing partnership in various fields, including trade, infrastructure development, and defense cooperation. China has become an increasingly important economic and strategic partner for Bangladesh, while Bangladesh has been an active participant in China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Economic ties between the two countries have deepened significantly in recent years. China has emerged as one of Bangladesh's largest trading partners and a major source of foreign direct investment (FDI). Chinese companies have been involved in a range of infrastructure projects in Bangladesh, including the construction of roads, bridges, and power plants. Additionally, China has provided financial assistance for various development projects in Bangladesh, including the construction of the Padma Bridge and the expansion of the country's power and transportation infrastructure.
In the realm of defense and security cooperation, Bangladesh and China have also strengthened their ties. The two countries have engaged in military exchanges, and China has supplied military equipment to Bangladesh, including frigates, submarines, and fighter jets.
Culturally, the two countries have also sought to enhance people-to-people exchanges, with a growing interest in Chinese language and culture in Bangladesh, and vice versa.
In an exclusive interview with The Security World the Chinese Ambassador has discussed many issues including bilateral, economic and security. The excerpts of the interview as follows: 
Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh H.E. Yao Wen

1. Bilateral relations:
a. How does China perceive the current state of bilateral relations between China and Bangladesh, and what are the key areas of cooperation?
b. What is China’s stance on strengthening diplomatic, cultural, and economic ties between the two countries?
China and Bangladesh treat each other as intimate brothers, good neighbors and close partners. We together have set a model of relations between developing countries based on equal footing, mutual respect and amicable cooperation for the improvement of the people’s well-beings. This August, Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met again after four years, infusing new and strong impetus to the development of our bilateral relations.
President Xi Jinping’s special attention to China-Bangladesh relations is not only reflected in inter-governmental exchanges and cooperation, but also in promoting people-to-people bonds. In 2010, when the Chinese Navy hospital ship “Peace Ark” sailed to Bangladesh and carried out humanitarian medical missions in Chittagong, the Chinese military doctors helped a local lady in critical conditions give birth safely to a baby. The father of the new-born named her after “China” in Bangla. 
On the eve of the International Children’s Day this year, Alifa Chin, the girl who have grown to 13 years old received a reply letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping, in which President Xi Jinping encouraged her to study hard, pursue her dreams, and carry on the traditional friendship between China and Bangladesh. President Xi Jinping’s reply letter aroused enthusiastic responses from both the two countries, injecting new historical significance and contemporary connotation to the China-Bangladesh friendship.
This year, as countries around the world gradually stepped out of the COVID-19 shadows, mutual visits and exchanges between China and Bangladesh have also resumed and increased rapidly. China has introduced a series of measures to encourage and facilitate personnel exchanges between the two countries. Currently, there are 50 direct flights between Dhaka and Chinese cities, with a capacity of transporting 10,000 passengers on weekly basis. The Governments of China and Bangladesh have exchanged a number of high-level delegations. The Chinese Embassy in Bangladesh also organized more than ten delegations from the Bangladeshi government, political parties, media, think tanks, youth and other constituencies to visit China. China-Bangladesh relations face great potential and opportunities for development.
The year after the next, we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Bangladesh. China is willing to take this opportunity to work with Bangladeshi friends from all walks of life to keep committed to the themes of peace, stability and development, push our bilateral relations to a new level and usher in a new era of friendly cooperation.

2. Bangladesh election:
a. What is China’s perspective on the recent elections in Bangladesh, and how does China view the outcome?
b. How does China assess the overall democratic process and political stability in Bangladesh?
The upcoming election is an internal affair of Bangladesh. As a matter of foreign policy, China adheres to the principle of non-interference in internal affairs of other countries, and opposes any force interfering in internal affairs of other countries, including Bangladesh. The future of Bangladesh shall be determined by the Bangladeshi people only. China is full of confidence to the better future of Bangladesh as well as China-Bangladesh relations. 
As a long-standing tradition, China keeps good relations with all political parties in Bangladesh. The friendly relationship and practical cooperation between China and Bangladesh have been endorsed and welcomed by all Bangladeshi people, including the political parties. 

3. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI):
a. How has the BRI influenced Bangladesh-China relations, and what specific projects have been implemented under this initiative?
b. What benefits does Bangladesh expect to gain from its participation in the BRI, and how does China view Bangladesh’s role in the initiative?
In 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a historic visit to Bangladesh, where he and the Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced the opening of a new era of China-Bangladesh Belt and Road cooperation.
Over the past seven years, we have built 12 highways, 21 bridges and 27 power and energy projects in Bangladesh, turning the dreams of the Bangladeshi people into reality. This October, the Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated in person the Bangabandhu Tunnel under the Karnaphuli River, on which occasion President Xi Jinping also sent a message of congratulation. At present, there are nearly 700 Chinese enterprises operating in Bangladesh, fulfilling their social responsibilities and creating more than 550 thousand job opportunities in Bangladesh.
The Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina spoke highly of the BRI that it has opened a new door for Bangladesh’s development. On the journey of Bangladesh’s modernization, the BRI is the most befitting development cooperation initiative in line with Vision 2041 and Smart Bangladesh. China stands ready to work with Bangladesh to tighten the cooperation ties and embrace a new stage of Belt and Road cooperation of higher quality at higher levels.

4. Economic cooperation:
a. How would you describe the current state of trade and economic cooperation between Bangladesh and China?
b. What are the major sectors where China and Bangladesh can further enhance bilateral trade and investment?
c. Are there any ongoing initiatives to address trade imbalances between the two countries?
Both China and Bangladesh are at a critical stage of development. China aims at building a modern socialist country in all respects by the mid of this century. Bangladesh will graduate from the LDCs by 2026, and endeavors to become a developed country by 2041. It is the common concern of us both how to make such ambitions into reality. A widely endorsed suggestion is that Bangladesh and China should join hands in pursuing high-quality development.
China has been one of the largest sources of Bangladesh’s FDI. As of this September, China’s stock investment in Bangladesh is3.17 billion USD, most of which goes to the power sector. The mega projects funded and constructed by China have effectively increased the electricity supply in Bangladesh, improved the travel and living environment of the Bangladeshi people, and injected impetus into the socio-economic development of the country.
China has been Bangladesh’s single largest trading partner since 2010. This calendar year by September, the bilateral trade volume has accumulated to 18.13 billion USD. China is committed to opening-up and translating its immense market into profitable opportunity for the world, including Bangladesh. China never deliberately pursues trade surplus. The trade gap between us is determined by the bilateral trade structure. Bangladesh imports key materials, machine and parts from China, which equips the pillar RMG industry of Bangladesh with higher productivity and assists Bangladesh in expanding overseas market with increasing competitiveness.
In future, China will work with Bangladesh to make good use of trade promotion platforms like the China International Import Expo, accelerate the process of bilateral FTA, and actively promote import of high-quality agricultural products from Bangladesh, such as mangoes. With the transformation and upgrading of Bangladesh’s industrial system, the bilateral trade structure will continue to improve and gradually strike a balance.

Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Yao Wen on November 9, 2023 said Beijing hopes that Bangladesh general elections would be held based on “constitution and laws” and stabilityto be prevailed in the country after the polls. Photo: BSS

5. Security Cooperation:
a. How do China and Bangladesh cooperate in the area of security, including counter-terrorism and intelligence sharing?
b. Are there any joint initiatives or agreements between the two countries to address common security challenges?
All countries are passengers in the same boat. It is our common aspiration to realize lasting peace in the world, so that every country can enjoy a peaceful and stable external environment, and all the people can live and work in peace and contentment, with their rights and freedoms fully guaranteed. To this end, we need to unite and collaborate to make the entire world a more secured place. It was against this background that Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the Global Security Initiative (GSI).
China upholds the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, pursues the long-term objective of building a security community, and advocates a new path to security featuring dialogue over confrontation, partnership over alliance and win-win over zero-sum. This February, China launched The Global Security Initiative Concept Paper, which underscores a Chinese approach to peaceful settlement of hotspot issues through dialogue and consultation.
Terrorism is a scourge that ravages the world. No country is immune from terrorist threats, and no country can fight it alone. China stands firm in the fight against terrorism in all forms. In compliance with the United Nations Charter, the UN Security Council resolutions on terrorism, and the Keywords to Understand China’s National Defense and Military Development, China’s armed forces have increased cooperation on counter-terrorism and law-enforcement with other countries, in particular neighboring countries, and actively participated in joint counter-terrorism exercises within bilateral and multilateral frameworks, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the ASEAN, and the counter-terrorism quadrilateral cooperation and coordination mechanism by the militaries of Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and Tajikistan (QCCM), to strengthen joint measures to prevent and fight terrorism and protect international and regional peace and stability. The Chinese government and armed forces stand ready to increase exchanges and cooperation with other countries, including Bangladesh, in the auspices of the GSI to counter terrorist threats and ensure global and regional peace and development.
China keeps fulfilling its international obligations and extending military assistance to Bangladesh in such needs. China’s military assistance is based on the principle of mutual respect, equality, trust, and mutual benefit. It includes provision of equipment, expert missions and personnel training. China provides assistance without imposing any extraneous political conditions or interfering in the internal affairs of Bangladesh. Rather, the assistance is designed to help Bangladesh enhance its own security and military capabilities, and tailored to specific needs of Bangladesh in an innovative manner.
Some people misunderstand GSI as an initiative of military concerns only. In fact, beyond traditional security fields, the GSI pays more attention to non-traditional security issues like responding to climate change, food and energy security, data management, AI regulation, public health governance, and countering transnational organized crime, which are also of the interests of Bangladesh. China fully respects and appreciates Bangladesh’s long-holding position of “friendship to all, malice towards none”, and stands ready to carryout dialogues and cooperation with Bangladesh in the fields of common interests and concerns under this initiative. It is not a set menu, but à la carte. Bangladesh can choose the areas that it feels comfortable to start with.

6. Rohingya Crisis:
a. How does China view the Rohingya crisis in terms of its impact on regional stability and security?
b. What measures has China taken to support Bangladesh in addressing the Rohingya refugee situation?
c. Is there any potential for China and Bangladesh to collaborate in finding a long-term solution to the Rohingya crisis?
d. What steps has China taken to address the Rohingya crisis and support the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh?
e. How does China view the efforts made by the international community, including Bangladesh, to find a sustainable solution for the Rohingya issue?
The issue of displaced Myanmar resident is by nature a bilateral one between Bangladesh and Myanmar. China mediates as a common friend and partner of both. Right after the cross border flux in 2017, China made the three-step proposition regarding the situation in Rakhine State of Myanmar, namely to stop violence, start repatriation and focus on development. 
Over the years, China has offered tremendous help within its capability. We have urged Myanmar to improve the security situation in Rakhine State, helped Bangladesh and Myanmar promote conditions of repatriation and resettlement facilities, provided good office for direct talks between Bangladesh and Myanmar, and called on the international community to encourage and support both sides. This year, China has provided health kits worth of 1.5 million USD to the vulnerable people in the camps through cooperation with UNHCR, and donated several batches of food, clothes and other living necessities to the displaced people in cooperation with Bangladesh Red Crescent Society and local NGOs. The Chinese Government will do more in the years to come.
At present, under the mediation of China, Bangladesh and Myanmar are rebuilding mutual trust and jointly seeking a long term and sustainable solution to the crisis. A “go & see” delegation composed of representatives of displaced people and Bangladeshi government officials visited Rakhine State. The Myanmar side also sent two working groups to Bangladesh to talk directly with the displaced people and introduce to them the scenario after returning to Rakhine. Bangladesh and Myanmar also reinstated visa exemption for diplomatic and official passport holders. These are also historic breakthroughs. There are also converging opinions that repatriation is the only way-out for the current crisis. We call upon all the stakeholders to join efforts in fulfilling the objective of repatriation, since there is no other alternative.