56 deals are signed to boost cooperation on trade, infrastructure
China agreed to provide loans to Bangladesh for projects including roads, bridges, tunnels and power plants on Friday during President Xi Jinping’s historic visit to the country.
Witnessed by Xi and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, 56 agreements and memorandums of understanding were signed to enhance cooperation on telecommunication, infrastructure, finance and trade.
The two leaders also attended a joint inauguration ceremony to unveil six cooperative projects including a tunnel and a Confucius Institute.
“China will continue to offer capital, technology and human resources to help with economic and social development in Bangladesh,” Xi said at a joint news briefing in Dhaka after attending the signing ceremony during his two-day state visit to the country.
Calling Bangladesh an “important partner of cooperation in South Asia”, Xi said the two countries have agreed to work together to push forward the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.
Hasina said her meeting with Xi was “quite fruitful” and will benefit the people of both countries.
Xi is the first Chinese president to visit Bangladesh in 30 years.
Bilateral trade reached $14.7 billion last year, up 17 percent year-on-year. China is Bangladesh’s largest trading partner, while Bangladesh is China’s third-largest in South Asia.
Bangladesh is a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which has approved $165 million in loans for Bangladesh.
Jiang Jingkui, director of the Center of South Asian Studies at Peking University, said that Xi’s visit shows that China is paying more attention to South Asia, which was not a traditional focus for diplomacy in the past.
With a population of 160 million, Bangladesh has huge market potential for Chinese companies, he said.
Ruan Zongze, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said Bangladesh has a number of good ports, including Dhaka, the country’s capital and largest city.
China plays an active role in infrastructure construction in Bangladesh, and the country is at the center of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor, proposed by China to connect East and South Asia, Ruan added.
Dhaka is the second stop of Xi’s trip after Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
He is scheduled to fly to Goa, India, to attend the eighth BRICS Summit over the weekend.
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