Bangladesh’s socio-economic ties with China need to be enhanced for its own benefit, and Bangladesh will benefit from good relations with China, said a statement issued by Bangladesh Discourse Group on June 8. An international webinar titled “China’s Cooperation with Bangladesh: the Current Perspective” was organized by Bangladesh Discourse Group in collaboration with China Muslim World Cooperation Research (CMWCR), a project of Malaysia-based think tank: Muslim World Research Center; MWRC.
Former Commerce Minister and the incumbent of Chairman of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs in the National Assembly of Bangladesh, retired Lt. Con. Muhammad Faruk Khan MP, delivered the inaugural address while the introductory speech was made by the Head of CMWCR and President of MWRC, Associate Professor Dr. Isharaf Hossain and Former FBCCI Vice President Abul Quashem Haider presented the keynote speech.
Retired Air Vice Marshal Mohammad Humayun Kabir, former Defense Adviser of Bangladesh to Malaysia & currently Project Co-ordinator of CMWCR, Bangladesh, Retired Brigadier General Dr. Shafaat Ahmad, Research Co-ordinator of CMWCR in Bangladesh, former judge and columnist Iqtedar Ahmed, Professor Mohammad Abul Bashar, Mahasa University, Malaysia, Associate Professor Dr. M. Moniruzzaman, International Islamic University IIUM Malaysia, Shiabur Rahman, Executive editor, Daily Bangladesh Post, Poet Shanta Maria, Journalist and faculty member, Yunnan Minzu University, China, among others took part in the discussion. The program was moderated by Assistant Professor Dr. Mohammad Zahidul Islam, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) and Chief Coordinator of Bangladesh Discourse Group (BDG).
In his inaugural address, Mr. Faruk Khan MP said: the honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has visited China for more than three times. Chinese President visited Bangladesh in 2018 and since the establishment of diplomatic relations, Bangladesh’s relations with China have increased during the tenure of each government. In recent times, Bangladesh’s relations with China have been excellent on the basis of mutual understanding. This relationship will be further enhanced through multi-faceted cooperation. Mr. Khan went on saying, “China is investing in the development and progress of Bangladesh. In particular, they are assisting Bangladesh with its technology and skilled professionals in the construction of infrastructural development such as Padma Bridge, Karnafuli Tunnel, various power plants and roads. Besides, they will be heavily involved in the Delta Plan lies in front of us. Meanwhile, a team of Chinese experts and doctors are working in Bangladesh on the Covid-19 pandemic. China has recently extended a helping hand with 5 lac Covid-19 vaccines”, he continued. Further he added: “China can play an effective role in finding a lasting solution to the existing Rohingya problem”.
In his introductory speech, Dr. Isharaf Hossain, Head of the CMWCR project said, the Muslim world’s relationship with China is important as the catalyst for a new change in the current world order. The Muslim world along with China, is expected to play an important role in the new transformation of the world system. He continued saying, “It will open the door to new possibilities and allow Muslims to play a more positive, effective and dynamic role in the future based on this relationship. Bangladesh’s position in the Muslim world is important regionally and internationally. As a result of the role that China is currently playing in Bangladesh as its closest Muslim country, will place Bangladesh in a leading position in the Muslim world if it can utilize wisely China’s various cooperation. He also mentioned that CMWCR is working on how to strengthen and further regional and national interests and the interests of the Muslim world.
Speakers on this occasion highlighted the historical background of Bangladesh’s trade and diplomatic relations with China and highlighted various aspects of recent times.
In his keynote speech, Abul Quashem Haider highlighted how China, as a close friend of Bangladesh, has been playing a role in corporeal infrastructure in recent times, and said that Bangladesh needs effective friendship with a technologically powerful country like China. So that Bangladesh can move forward in various technological developments. He said: “Bangladesh has a strong investment and strategic relationship with China, which started in 1997 with an electric field called ‘Power China’. Over the next 20 years, more than 20 Chinese companies have operated in Bangladesh. Of these, Power China has been working on more than 14 projects, totaling 4.70 million US dollar”. Furthermore, China’s relationship with us has been strengthened in 2001 through the China Friendship Conference Center and the China Friendship Bridge as a gift from China. In the coming years, China proposes to work on 17 projects in our country with an investment of about 11.5 million US dollar, he added.
Voicing out his opinion Iqtedar Ahmed said, the current investment of various countries including China is undoubtedly positive for the country. However, allegations that corruption is taking place in the country, including smuggling abroad, should be scrutinized. Otherwise, the real benefits of China’s current cooperation will not be forthcoming.
Clarifying what Bangladesh Government should do, Air Vice Marshal Humayun Kabir said in his speech that in order to make the exchange of cooperation with China more effective and fruitful, the government needs to formulate a clear policy including the establishment of a suitable and strong dialogue group of skilled and expert people. Similarly, Brigadier Shafaat said Bangladesh needs to use the various events and activities of the Muslim world in the same way that some Muslim countries are benefiting strategically by working with China. While Professor M. Basher explaining Bangladesh-China relationship, emphasized on how Bangladesh could play a positive role in discussing the China’s recent Uighur issue.
Joining the discussion, Dr. M. Moniruzzaman said that in order to make Bangladesh a dynamic ‘Golden Bengal’ (Sonar Bangla), the cooperation of China and other advanced Muslim countries needs to be strengthened and made more effective.
Expressing his view points, Shihabur Rahman said it would not be right to consider any excuse or unjustified obstacle in accepting China’s cooperation in the greater interest of the country, people and nation. He continued saying: “China has set a goal to become the world’s number one economy before 2030. This vision greatly inspires Bangladesh to work with the largest economy. In addition, in the coming years, there will be no more competitors to compete with the Chinese manufacturing market”. Furthermore, “China especially values friendship. In the coming days, Bangladesh can be expected to side with China in any case,” he added.
Poet Shanta Maria said that various fruitful activities are going on between China and Bangladesh in the field of education, literature and culture. In order to make these activities more effective and increase, it is necessary to establish institutional cultural centers in both the countries. Going back to the history of Chinese-Bengal relationship, she mentioned “China has been in touch with Bengal since BC. Besides, various Chinese travelers like Faxian, have given us excellent descriptions of Bengali. In the Middle Ages came other travelers, who even came to the court of independent sultans at the Sultani reign”. Furthermore, “China’s contact with Bangladesh has increased since the introduction of silk. There are over two crore Muslims in China. There is a growing trend in Bangladesh to learn Chinese and migrate to China for employment”, she added.
Report prepared by:
Dr. M. Asadur Rahman
Research Fellow and Member
China Muslim World Cooperation Research: CMWCR
Muslim World Research Center: MWRC
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