No setback for mega projects due to coronavirus: Chinese envoy | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 13, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:40 PM, February 13, 2020


No setback for mega projects due to coronavirus: Chinese envoy

Bangladesh's mega projects involving Chinese nationals will not face any setback as less than 10 per cent of them had recently gone home and they will be quarantined and checked before being allowed back, said China's envoy to Bangladesh yesterday.

"Less than 10 per cent of Chinese engineers, technicians and workers went to China for the spring festival or the New Year. We recommended that they do not come back," said the ambassador, Li Jiming, at a press conference.

He also dispelled rumours of Bangladeshi students in China running out of food and water.

The Bangladesh China Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCCI) organised the event at the National Press Club to provide an overall insight into the coronavirus outbreak in China.

"There is bad news that some Chinese nationals who went to the vacation are key figures of the project, few of them are leaders," he said.

However, Jiming hoped that there would be no significant interruption to the work as the Chinese nationals would come back only after undergoing quarantine and checks.

He said China was a bit apprehensive that the Bangladesh government might impose restrictions on the import of Chinese goods as well as limits to trips.

"I recently heard that the Bangladeshi government might impose some restrictions on Chinese imports through its land ports via Myanmar. If it happens, the situation could get serious," he said.

Jiming believes that the virus cannot be carried by goods and materials, rather it can only be carried by humans. He also urged Bangladesh to take measures based on rationale and science, not spurred by panic.

He praised the Bangladesh government for not imposing any trade barrier on China.

"As of today, no trade restrictions and overreacting measures have been taken by the government (of Bangladesh)," he added.

He touched upon the Bangladeshi business community's concerns over whether they would have to shift their supply chain elsewhere from China.

"China has full confidence, determination and capability to win the battle soon. So, for only a little delay, shift of supply chain will be a stupid thing to do," said Jiming.

Asked if the Bangladesh garment sector will suffer from the situation, he said the virus was identified in Wuhan, which was not prominent for garment-related materials.

He said 70 per cent of the raw materials required by Bangladesh's garment sector came from China and what happened in Wuhan would not affect the garment sector's supply chain.

The ambassador said except for some of the affected cities, most were witnessing the return of people to work. "So the situation is improving as we are speeding up progress in a scientific and orderly manner," he said.

"Over the years, as Bangladesh's largest trading partner, China has provided Bangladesh with stable sources of raw materials and various commodities of high quality and low price, giving important material support for Bangladesh's economic development," he said.

"We believe that China will remain Bangladesh's most reliable trading partner in the future," he added.

Jiming hoped that both sides would continue to maintain sound trade exchanges in goods and services.

"We also call on the Chittagong customs to provide efficient customs clearance facilitation for imports from China on the premise of ensuring the safety of export inspection and quarantine of goods," the ambassador added.

The ambassador said some rumours were making the rounds that some Bangladeshi students in Hubei province, not Wuhan, were running out of food and water.

"After hearing the allegation from the Bangladesh's foreign minister and officials I instantly dismissed it. Because I know China doesn't act like that," he said.

"However, immediately an embassy official contacted China and I was assured of no such incident happened with the students," said Jiming.

"Even I personally talked to some Bangladeshi students and they said there were no shortage of food and water, but they said they were in shock," he added.

Gazi Golam Murtoza, president of the BCCCI, said the outbreak of the virus in China has not affected businesses so far.

During this period of time, Bangladeshi traders usually import their necessary raw materials for garments and other sectors before the Chinese New Year holiday, he said.

"If the problem (virus outbreak) continues, the future will tell where the situation will get to," he said, adding that there were 172 Bangladeshis in Hubei. 

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