China-Bangladesh relations: Friendship with mutual cooperation

By K M Rehan Salahuddin
0 CommentsPrint E-mail, October 8, 2010
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On October 4, 1975 diplomatic relations were established between Bangladesh and China. After 35 years, it has evolved into not only a diplomatic relationship but also a friendship. The cooperation on economic and military issues, culture and education, and science and technology has helped to forge remarkable ties between the two countries.

In 1978, Vice Premier Li Xiannian made the first visit by a Chinese leader to Bangladesh. Li returned in 1986, but this time as China's president, and further strengthened bilateral relations. At this time China and Bangladesh started to maintain close commercial and cultural ties and supported Bangladesh with military aid and equipment.

Through the 90s the relationship became closer with continuous support and cooperation from China. Prime ministers from Bangladesh visited China, and the flow of cooperation remained stable.

On October 4, 2000, Bangladesh celebrated the 25th anniversary of China-Bangladesh relationship with a commemorative postal stamp. The Chinese ambassador expressed appreciation for Bangladesh's consistent support, and China provided economic assistance of 1.8 billion yuan (US$217 million) to Bangladesh at that time.

In 2005, Premier Wen Jiabao made an official visit to Bangladesh and both countries declared 2005 as "Bangladesh-China Friendship Year." The two countries signed nine different bilateral agreements.

In 2007, Bangladesh invited China to become an observer in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). China has always supported Bangladesh and been a friend of Bangladesh politically and economically. After Cyclone Sidr hit Bangladesh in 2007, China donated US$1 million for relief and reconstruction in cyclone-hit areas.

This year, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, along with an array of top ministers and key officials, visited China. At the meeting with Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao, Hasina expressed the willingness to develop closer ties with China and signed more agreements.

China is currently Bangladesh's biggest trade partner. Bilateral trade reached as high as US$4.6 billion, which reflects sharp growth. Leather, cotton textiles and fish are the primary products imported by China, while China mostly exports textiles, machinery, electronics, cement, fertilizer, and raw silk to Bangladesh. Some may cite a trade imbalance between the two countries, but it should be remembered that China has supported Bangladesh with investments in projects and infrastructure, and education. This meaningful support and mutual cooperation keeps the ties between the two countries strong and healthy.

Many believe that there are a lot of things that Bangladesh should learn from China. There are enormous chances for Bangladesh to develop and grow with the support of China. The most important things that Bangladesh should learn from China are discipline, unity and willingness of development. With different political models and education systems, Bangladesh shouldn't attempt to enact similar policies of development, but should proceed step by step according to what works best for its economy and society. It is not only about support, aid and loans. It is all about development with time and growth with cooperation. It's expected that China and Bangladesh's bilateral relations will grow and the "Comprehensive Partnership of Cooperation" will deepen and be expanded over time.

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