Bangladesh and China held the 12th Foreign Office Consultations at the State Guest House ‘Padma’ in Dhaka. The Bangladesh delegation was led by Ambassador Masud Bin Momen, Foreign Secretary while the Chinese delegation was led by Mr. Sun Weidong, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China.
Vice Minister Sun Weidong mentioned that he is visiting Bangladesh after ten years and is very much impressed to see Bangladesh’s tremendous development achievements carried out by the Government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Both delegations discussed a wide range of issues of mutual interests and cooperation in multilateral forums. The Chinese side reiterated its appreciation to Bangladesh for its continued support of the One China Policy. They recalled the recent high-level political exchanges and meetings that have further deepened the strategic partnership of cooperation. Bangladesh once again thanked China for its support for vaccines to manage the Covid-19 pandemic.
The two sides reviewed the progress of different quality infrastructure projects in Bangladesh and welcomed the upcoming inauguration of mega projects like the Bangabandhu Tunnel under the river Karnaphuli and the Padma Bridge Rail-link. Both sides agreed to further streamline the outstanding issues concerning a few additional project proposals in the power and communication sectors. The two sides also discussed ways to enhance the exports to China by utilizing the Duty and Quota Free (DFQF) access to 98% of the products that came into effect on 1st September 2022. The Chinese side expressed particular interest in importing tropical fruits like mango, jackfruit, guava, and frozen foods from Bangladesh in compliance with necessary quality specifications. Bangladesh’s side requested to include other export items like vegetables, pharmaceuticals, raw hides, foot wares, non-knit apparel, etc. in the DFQF coverage to minimize the existing trade imbalance with China.
The Chinese Vice Minister assured of encouraging the Chinese farms to invest in the Chinese Special Economic Zone in Chattogram. They also advised timely notification of interest with the Chinese Civil Aviation Authority for resuming the Dhaka-Guanzhu direct flight by Biman Bangladesh Airlines. Two sides agreed to launch regular Consular Consultations to address visa-related issues, especially for Bangladeshi students. Bangladesh expressed its interest in working together with China on innovation in digital technologies and biotechnologies. Both sides also showed interest in contributing to regional connectivity in South and South East Asia under the auspices of the Belt and Road Initiative of China.
The two sides expressed satisfaction with the existing defense cooperation and discussed the possibilities of regular staff-level talks and specialized training programs. China offered its support to build capacity for addressing emerging challenges like online gambling and drug trafficking. The two sides agreed in principle to have dedicated dialogue on public security issues. Bangladesh thanked China for sharing meteorological satellite information during natural calamities like cyclones and floods.
They also discussed other multilateral and regional issues including the Rohingya crisis. The Chinese side reiterated to facilitate the early, safe, sustainable, and voluntary repatriation of the Rohingyas to Rakhine State from Bangladesh. The Vice Minister mentioned that early repatriation would be beneficial for Bangladesh, Myanmar, and the whole region. The Chinese side appreciated the initiatives of Bangladesh to arrange the ‘Go and See’ visit in Myanmar and the ‘Come and Talk’ visit in Bangladesh by the respective delegations of Bangladesh and Myanmar to facilitate the repatriation of the first batch of the Pilot Project.
The Foreign Secretary thanked China for their cooperation and emphasized Bangladesh’s ongoing efforts to arrange continued voluntary and sustainable repatriation engaging friendly countries and regional and international organizations.