Chinese President Xi Jinping assured that his country will always stay beside Bangladesh in its needs including providing support in joining the BRICS and ensuring permanent solution to the Rohingya issue. "I will always support you (Sheikh Hasina) as you can join the BRICS," Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen quoted Xi as telling Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in a bilateral talks on the sidelines of the 15th BRICS Summit. The Chinese president also said, "China will help Bangladesh bring a permanent solution to the Rohingya issue... we don't want instability in the region". After the meeting at the Hotel Hilton Sandton in Johannesburg Wednesday (Aug 23) evening, Momen said in a media briefing that Xi wants to resolve the Rohingya issue through tripartite engagement of China, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
According to Momen, the Bangladesh premier said her government wants to repatriate Rohingyas to their homeland citing that the displaced Myanmar nationals are becoming threats for the regional peace as many of them are engaged in illegal drugs and arms trading. "Peace is imperative for development," Sheikh Hasina said.
The Chinese president assured that they will always support Bangladesh in solving Rohingya issue, expressing his country's keenness to help Dhaka in the development of energy, renewable energy and infrastructure. Xi also gave assurance of cooperation in making Bangladesh a developed and prosperous Shonar Bangla. He continued: "China will help you to materialise your dream to build a developed and prosperous 'Shonar Bangla' at the quickest possible time."
Sheikh Hasina has sought Xi's help in quick implementation of some Chinese funded projects which are now being stuck for fund crisis while the Chinese president assured of looking into the matter.
During the talks, the PM stressed the need for reducing the trade gap between Bangladesh and China citing that Bangladesh imports Chinese goods worth about 20 billion US dollars every year while China imports Bangladeshi goods worth only 700 million USD. The Chinese president then assured of taking initiative to reduce the imbalance in China-Bangladesh trade. He said his country has given duty and quota free access of 98 percent Bangladeshi products to the Chinese market.
"The trade gap between Bangladesh and China will be reduced if some Chinese investments come into Bangladesh," Sheikh Hasina said. She also stressed the need for signing the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) between the two countries. In reply, the Chinese president said, "We will take measures to quicken the signing of the Preferential Trade Agreement between the two countries."
Momen also said Bangladesh in the bilateral meeting has expressed its eagerness to export fresh fruits such as mango, jackfruit, guava, fresh vegetables, cattle and poultry feeds to China. The Chinese president assured Bangladesh of considering the issue prominently, the Bangladesh foreign minister said.
The Bangladesh premier also invited the Chinese president to visit Bangladesh to witness the opening of the Padma Rail Bridge to be held in October next. In reply, the Chinese president said, "I will definitely come to your country. But the time of visit will be fixed through talks between foreign ministers of both the countries".
Xi also invited the Bangladesh premier to visit China while Sheikh Hasina said she will visit China, but it may take time as she will be busy with the polls campaign as the national election is knocking at the door, Momen said.
The Bangladesh premier as well urged the Chinese president to widen the scope for Bangladeshi students to study in China while Xi assured of looking into the matter.
Sheikh Hasina arrived in Johannesburg on Aug 22 to attend the BRICS summit being held on Aug 22-24. She will deliver a speech on Thursday on behalf of Bangladesh as a member of the "New Development Bank of BRICS" at Friends of BRICS Leaders Dialogue (BRICS-Africa Outreach and the BRICS Plus Dialogues) comprising representatives from 70 countries.
President Xi Jinping arrived in South Africa at midnight on Monday.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, Prime Minister's Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman, PM's daughter and Thematic Ambassador of Climate Vulnerable Forum and Chairperson of the National Advisory Committee for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Saima Wazed, PM's Principal Secretary Md Tofazzel Hossain Miah and Senior Secretary of Foreign Affairs Masud Bin Momen, were present at the meeting.