Together We Win the Match
August 19, 2019: it was on that day that I first stepped on the land of Bangladesh as Ambassador of China. Arriving with me was the mission designated by President Xi Jinping to uplift the China-Bangladesh Strategic Partnership of Cooperation to a higher level, and to implement the consensus made by both our leaders during HPM Sheikh Hasina's successful visit to China days before I was appointed. More than three years on, now I am filled with satisfaction by what my Embassy and I have achieved with the assistance and support from all colleagues and friends.
Our joint fight against the pandemic leaves the deepest impression as it touches the softest part of my heart. When China suffered from the first-reported Covid wave in early 2020, my Embassy received condolences and donations from all walks of life in Bangladesh, despite the scarce resources they had for themselves. Later, when Bangladesh was struck by the pandemic, especially in the face of the Delta raid, China came to the rescue with a professional medical team, batches of sanitary equipment, and millions of doses of gifted vaccines delivered right on time. By commercial procurement and joint production, Bangladesh was free from want for vaccines. Government service remained in function during the lockdowns, thanks to the Info-Sarker Phase-3 project built with concessional loans from China. Now Bangladesh has taken overall control of the pandemic, and its socio-economic development is back on track.
Both China and Bangladesh are fervent believers in development, thus economic cooperation has become a major propeller of our relations. As of now, the stock of FDI from China to Bangladesh amounts to USD 2.93 billion, which has grown by nearly 40 percent over the past three years. The Chinese Economic and Industrial Zone in Chattogram is being built with sound progress. Our bilateral trade in goods is projected to hit USD 28 billion this calendar year, exceeding that of 2019 by USD 10 billion. With the 98 percent zero-tariff treatment that came into force this September, it is expected that Bangladesh's exports to China would be further boosted.
Our cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative has entered a harvest season, delivering numerous mega projects that tremendously boost the growth of Bangladesh. The Payra Power Plant and the Dasherkandi Sewage Treatment Plant are both the largest of their kinds across the region. With Bangladesh's own funds, a Chinese team constructed the Padma Bridge, helping to turn the dream of Bangladeshi people into reality.
Through increasing interactions, the peoples of our two countries now understand each other better. Over the past three years, hundreds of Bangladeshi students have been granted full scholarship by the Chinese government. The Association of Bangladesh China Alumni (ABCA) was founded. Many "China corners" and "China centers" were set up in local campuses. When the Covid curve was flattened, my Embassy took immediate actions to take the stranded Bangladeshi students back to China through chartered flights. The Confucius Institutes also resumed in-person teaching at the earliest possibility. People can now watch talk shows about China on local TV channels, and enjoy Chinese series dubbed in Bengali. More and more Bangladeshi friends fall in love with Chinese Kongfu and lion dance. According to a joint survey conducted by my Embassy and Dhaka University, 60 percent of Bangladeshi people share a positive view on China.
When I watch the ongoing World Cup these days, I often recall the exciting moment when Team Bangladesh clinched its maiden SAFF Women's Championship this September. The Bangladeshi girls beat all rivals in the tournament. Their victory inspired the entire nation.
Rome was not built in a day. Before shooting the historic goal, the soccer girls struggled beyond the pitch for the opportunity to play, and trained hard on the field with both sweat and tears. They have tasted the bitterness of loss, but always came back with a stronger determination to win. Strongly self-motivated and disciplined, the team had grown from ordinary to excellent in less than two decades, and finally made its way to the peak of South Asia.
The legend of the women's football team is an allegory for the development miracle of Bangladesh as a whole. Under the able leadership of the Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, another extraordinary female figure, and the joint efforts of all Bangladeshi people, the country has become a role model for development studies across the globe.
Also a top player in women's football, Team China knows well that adoption of proper tactics is key to winning the match. After achieving the First Centenary Goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects in 2021, China is now geared up for realising the Second Centenary Goal of great national rejuvenation by the middle of this century through modernisation in the Chinese way. Like a coach lays out tactics at half-time, the recently concluded 20th National Congress of CPC elaborated in detail how China would secure its victory.
Bangladesh is also at a crucial point in realising its dream of "Shonar Bangla." Though not easy, Team Bangladesh is taking the lead in the match. I feel so lucky to have witnessed this whole process as a top fan seated in the front row.
The final whistle is yet to be blown. Let's keep playing, cheer for each other, and win the game together.
HE Li Jiming is the ambassador of China to Bangladesh.