Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang yesterday assured that China would persuade Myanmar to resolve the Rohingya crisis through bilateral discussions.
He gave the assurance during a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
Li Keqiang agreed that the return of the forcibly displaced people to their homeland is a solution to the problem.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque said, “The Chinese prime minister said they’ll try so that the two countries [Bangladesh and Myanmar] can find a solution to the problem. And China will persuade Myanmar in this regard.”
Appreciating Hasina for her humanitarian response to the Rohingya crisis, Li Keqiang said China can understand that it is a big challenge for Bangladesh.
The Chinese PM said they thought the crisis would have to be solved through bilateral channels. China had previously helped solve the problem as both Bangladesh and Myanmar are its friends, he added.
During the talks, Hasina said peace and stability is very essential for development, but the displacement of the Rohingyas from their homes in Myanmar affects the peace and stability in the region.
Mentioning that the Rohingya crisis would worsen with the passage of time, she said it needed to be resolved quickly. “The return of the Rohingyas to their homeland is the solution to the crisis.”
The PM said Bangladesh engaged in bilateral arrangements and made all sorts of efforts for the repatriation of Rohingyas, but they do not want to return to Myanmar as they are afraid.
In this context, she said China can play a role in creating a congenial environment in Myanmar for ensuing safety, dignity, and citizenship of the displaced Rohingyas and their access to their land and property in Myanmar to remove their fears.
Talking about economy and trade, the Chinese PM said the China-Bangladesh trade volume grew by 16 percent last year.
Hasina stressed the need for addressing the trade imbalance between the two countries as the trade growth is in favour of China. “So, China should make investment in Bangladesh, develop factories, and industries with the buyback guarantee.”
Mentioning that Bangladesh is setting up 100 special economic zones, she urged China to invest in those zones.
Li Keqiang said they want balanced trade relations and assured Hasina of working to reduce the trade imbalance.
Noting that 97 percent Bangladeshi products now enjoy duty-free access to Chinese market, the Chinese PM said they will try to allow duty exemption to the rest of the goods. “China is closely monitoring the outcomes of the FTA feasibility study,” he added.
About the implementation of projects, Hasina said during the Chinese president’s visit to Bangladesh in 2016, Dhaka had signed a number of agreements and MoUs with Beijing to implement projects in Bangladesh.
She put emphasis on expediting the project implementation process.
Hasina urged China to ease the terms and conditions of loan agreements and take necessary measures for timely disbursement of fund for implementation of the projects.
Her Chinese counterpart said his country would consider the matter.
The Bangladesh PM sought Chinese assistance for implementing the Delta Plan 2100, setting up a Climate Adaptation Centre, and mobilising resources in implementation of the Teesta River Comprehensive Management and Restoration project.
She also urged China to expedite the implementation of Dhaka-Chattogram-Cox’s Bazar high-speed train service project.
About visas, the PM said Bangladesh provides preferential visas to Chinese nationals under the umbrella of “on arrival visa” arrangements. But a similar treatment is not offered to Bangladeshi nationals travelling to China.
She hoped that China would ease the visa process for Bangladeshi passport holders, students, and businessmen in particular.
About the BCIM economic corridor, the two prime ministers highlighted its importance and potentials to connect markets of the region and agreed that it should be implemented quickly.
The foreign secretary said the Chinese PM termed Bangladesh a partner of China in South Asia. “We value our relationship with Bangladesh and would like to take it to a higher level... we’ve a strategic partnership and we hope that it’ll be deepened and strengthened further,” Li Keqiang said.
Bangladesh Ambassador to China Md Fazlul Karim and PM’s Speech Writer Md Nazrul Islam were present at the briefing.
Chairperson of National Advisory Committee for Autism and Neurodevelopment Disorders Saima Wazed Hossain, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, PM’s Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman F Rahman, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam, and Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Foreign Affairs Ministry Muhammad Faruk Khan were present, among others, during the talks.
After the meeting, Hasina joined a banquet hosted by her Chinese counterpart at the Great Hall of the People.
Earlier, on her arrival at the venue around 10:45am (local time), she was welcomed by the Chinese PM and accorded a state reception.
NINE INSTRUMENTS SIGNED
Bangladesh and China yesterday signed nine instruments for further strengthening cooperation on power, water resources, culture, and tourism sectors as well as providing 2,500 tonnes of rice for the displaced Rohingyas.
The instruments, including two loan deals, were signed in presence of the two prime ministers after their meeting.
Of the instruments, four were signed between the Economic Relations Division (ERD) of Bangladesh and the Ministry of Commerce of China, Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque told reporters.
The four deals are Framework Agreement of Expansion and Strengthening of Power System Network under DPDC Area; Framework Agreement of Power Grid Network Strengthening Project under PGCB Project; Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation between the two governments; and Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of Investment Cooperation Working Group.
The ERD also inked two loan agreements with the Export-Import Bank of China.
The two agreements are Government Concessional Loan Agreement of Expansion and Strengthening of Power System Network under DPDC Area Project; and Preferential Buyer’s Credit Loan Agreement of Expansion and Strengthening of Power System Network under DPDC Area Project.
Besides, an MoU on provision of Hydrological Information of Yaluzhangbu/Brahmaputra River and its Implementation Plan was signed between the water resources ministries of the two countries.
Another MoU on Cultural and Tourism Exchange Programme was signed by Ministry of Culture of China and Ministry of Cultural Affairs of Bangladesh.
A Letter of Exchange (LOE) on the Rohingya Refugees Rice Aid was signed by the disaster management and relief ministry of Bangladesh and China International Development Cooperation Agency.
Under the LoE, China will provide 2,500 tonnes of rice as assistance for the displaced Rohingyas who have taken shelter in Bangladesh.