China-Bangladesh friendship, as trusted as all-weather friendship

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, Bangladesh and China have developed robust bilateral cooperation based on mutual trust and interests. The most inspiring feature of Sino-Bangladesh relationship is its relative stability and continuity. China, a rising global power, is only 100 miles away from Bangladesh, separated by the Himalayas. Since China recognized Bangladesh in October 1975, the countries have persistently promoted and deepen their political, economic, diplomatic, and military relations. The main bases of these relations are mutual trust and interests. The Sino-Bangladesh relationship has been termed by a Chinese expert as being a “trusted friendship” or “all weather friendship”. As a reliable partner, China has provided political, economic, and diplomatic supports to Bangladesh since the beginning of the relations. Bangladesh also supported China in political and diplomatic arena. The frequent visits of heads of governments and opposition leaders of Bangladesh to China indicate the priority of China in Bangladesh’s foreign policy. One significant feature of the relations is that China has not yet changed its policies with the change of regime in Bangladesh. The determination of China to strictly follow non-interference in the domestic affairs of Bangladesh resulted in a bipartisan support for a closer relationship with Beijing. Both the countries have already concluded a wide range of agreements regarding agriculture, trade, transport and communications, energy, science and technology, and military cooperation.

Sino-Bangladesh relations are mutually beneficial for both countries. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and China, there have been multifaceted exchange and cooperation in the fields of politics, economy, military, and culture. In recent years, the trade relations between China and Bangladesh have considerably developed. Bangladesh has already become the most important trading partner for China in South Asia. A warm relation with Bangladesh is in the interests of China as geo-political location of the former is strategically important for the latter Bangladesh supported China in its attempt for securing positions in several international organizations including the United Nations Committee against Torture and the Council of International Maritime Organization. Regarding the economic issues, Bangladesh has already become a good market for Chinese goods in South Asia. However, Sino-Bangladesh balance of trade is already in favor of China. The better quality and cheaper price of Chinese machinery and equipment than the Bangladeshi and Indian ones have provided China with a good opportunity to expand its market in Bangladesh. Bangladeshi people have a trend to purchase Chinese products which are quite within the reach of purchasing power of the common mass, and this trend will continue in the future. Bangladesh has a great potential to become a good market for China to invest in various sectors as the labor cost is cheaper than many other countries in the world.

Bangladesh, on the other hand, is also benefited from the relations. Keeping a strong relation with a rising superpower certainly benefits Bangladesh in diplomatic, economic and security affairs at both regional and global levels. For a small economy like Bangladesh, achieving economic development is the most important goal. China, as a reliable development partner has been contributing generously to that end.
Nevertheless, the trade-deficit with China remains a major concern for Bangladesh despite various measures taken by the latter. China has already granted zero-tariff on about 9000 products from Bangladesh. However, it is not clear how much Bangladesh will be benefited from the offer, and it should be examined that which of these products have demand in the Chinese market. Although Bangladesh has received some Chinese trade concessions, it needs to push China to provide duty free access to more products especially those having good demand in the Chinese markets for reducing the existing trade gap. It should diversify its export baskets and remove its structural barriers. Another strategy could be to explore Chinese markets to learn about highly demanded products in China itself and produce those goods in Bangladesh even in joint venture with Chinese companies. The Bangladesh mission in China can arrange more and more trade fairs and exhibitions for Bangladeshi products in China, involving business communities from both countries.

Regarding Chinese Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Bangladesh, it should be noted that up to June 2020, China is in the top of investment in Bangladesh, which was not very significant. Therefore, Bangladesh should seek for greater amount of Chinese investment to promote its trade capacity and engage all its efforts to obtain more and more advantages. Bangladesh must provide Chinese investors with basic infrastructural facilities. In this regard, Chinese assistance may be sought as well. Both countries should further their cooperation in the areas of connectivity, deep seaport, energy, textile and ready-made garments sector, pharmaceuticals, tourism, seafood, and others.

As Both China and Bangladesh need each other for their business, culture and political issues, both nation needs to prove their friendship in due time. Bangladesh already approved port entry visas for the Chinese Nationals, therefore Chinese government should also think about this issue. China can at least give port entry visa to the good businessmen or the capable tourists to prove their friendship towards Bangladeshis. Thus we can see China-Bangladesh friendship, as trusted as all-weather friendship.

Long live China-Bangladesh Friendship.

Dr. Fakhrul Islam Babu
Executive Director
China Bangladesh Friendship Center Limited-CBFCL

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