Sheikh Hasina’s visit to China aims to strengthen Dhaka-Beijing relations

Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, Li Quang, China

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh embarked on a four-day bilateral visit to China today at the invitation of her Chinese counterpart, Li Qiang. This visit, from July 8 to 11, is anticipated to elevate the relationship between Bangladesh and China to a “comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership” from the existing “strategic partnership”.

A special flight (BG1701) of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, carrying Prime Minister Hasina and her entourage, departed from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 11:05 am local time. The flight is scheduled to land at Beijing Capital International Airport at 6:00 pm local time, marking the beginning of a significant diplomatic engagement aimed at bolstering bilateral ties.

The visit is seen as a pivotal moment in the diplomatic history of the two nations. During her stay in Beijing, Prime Minister Hasina will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and hold a delegation-level bilateral meeting with Premier Li Qiang on July 10. These high-level talks are expected to culminate in the signing of 20 to 22 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs).

“The MoUs on cooperation in the economic and banking sector, trade and investment, digital economy, infrastructure development, assistance in disaster management, construction of 6th and 9th Bangladesh-China friendship bridges, export of agricultural products from Bangladesh, and people-to-people connectivity are likely to be signed,” said Foreign Minister Dr. Hasan Mahmud at a press conference. These agreements are poised to significantly enhance the cooperation and connectivity between the two nations.

The relationship between Bangladesh and China has been evolving steadily over the years. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Bangladesh in October 2016 marked a significant milestone, elevating the relationship to a strategic partnership. Prime Minister Hasina’s last visit to Beijing in July 2019 further cemented these ties. The upcoming visit is expected to build on this foundation, pushing the relationship into a new phase of comprehensive strategic cooperation.

The historical context of Bangladesh-China relations is marked by mutual respect and cooperation. The two countries are set to celebrate the golden jubilee of their diplomatic relations next year, a testament to the enduring nature of their partnership. Over the decades, China has played a crucial role in Bangladesh’s development, particularly in infrastructure and economic sectors.

On July 9, the second day of her visit, Prime Minister Hasina will meet with Jin Liqun, the President of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), at her place of residence. Following this, she will attend a summit on Trade, Business, and Investment Opportunities between Bangladesh and China at the China World Summit Wing, Shangri-La Circle, Beijing. This summit aims to explore new avenues for economic cooperation and investment.

In the afternoon, a meeting is scheduled between the Bangladesh premier and the Consultative Party president at the Great Hall of the People. Later, Prime Minister Hasina will place a wreath at the Monument to the People’s Heroes at Tiananmen Square, paying tribute to the history and legacy of the Chinese people. The day will conclude with a dinner hosted in her honor by the Ambassador of Bangladesh to China at Bangladesh House in Beijing.

The most anticipated event of the visit will take place on July 10, when Prime Minister Hasina and Premier Li Qiang will lead a delegation-level bilateral meeting at the Great Hall of the People. Numerous MoUs will be signed in the presence of both leaders, covering a wide range of sectors. These agreements are expected to pave the way for enhanced economic cooperation, infrastructure development, and cultural exchange.

Following the bilateral meeting, Premier Li Qiang will host a welcome banquet in honor of Prime Minister Hasina at the same venue. This gesture underscores the significance China places on its relationship with Bangladesh.

In the afternoon, Prime Minister Hasina will have a one-on-one meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People. This high-level engagement is expected to further solidify the strategic cooperation between the two countries and explore new areas of mutual interest.

The timing of this visit is also notable, coming just 15 days after Prime Minister Hasina’s visit to India from June 21 to 22. This highlights Bangladesh’s strategic balancing act in maintaining robust relations with both neighboring India and influential China. As Bangladesh continues to develop and seek new opportunities for growth, maintaining strong ties with these major powers is crucial.

The focus on infrastructure development, particularly the construction of the 6th and 9th Bangladesh-China friendship bridges, underscores the importance of connectivity in the bilateral relationship. These projects are expected to enhance trade and movement between the two nations, fostering greater economic integration.

Moreover, the emphasis on cooperation in the digital economy and disaster management reflects the forward-looking nature of the partnership. As both countries navigate the challenges of the 21st century, such as climate change and technological advancements, these areas of cooperation will be increasingly important.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to China marks a significant step in the ongoing development of Bangladesh-China relations. The expected elevation of the relationship to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, along with the signing of numerous MoUs, highlights the depth and breadth of cooperation between the two nations. As Bangladesh and China look to the future, this visit is set to pave the way for even stronger ties and mutual growth.

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