Expectations from new Chinese ambassador in Bangladesh
By: Sufian Siddique
Newly appointed Ambassador of China to Bangladesh Yao Wen arrived in Dhaka on Wednesday evening (December 28). He will replace outgoing Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming as the 16th ambassador of China to Bangladesh.
Chinese embassy in Dhaka said Yao expressed his great pleasure to come to Bangladesh, the Pearl of the Bay of Bengal, to serve as 16th Ambassador of China to Bangladesh.
Yao thanked and paid a tribute to Bangladeshi friends from all walks of life for their kind help and stern support for the betterment of China-Bangladesh relations.
The newly appointed ambassador said under the strategic guidance of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the China-Bangladesh Strategic Partnership of Cooperation has been developing fast and steadily.
“We keep enhancing mutual political trust, proactively synergize development strategies, promote cooperation in all fields, understand and support each other on core interests and major concerns, and jointly uphold international justice and true multilateralism,” said the envoy.
Acknowledging that China has embarked on a new journey toward a modern socialist country in all respects while Bangladesh is striving with no effort spared for the splendid dream of ”Sonar Bangla” by following the country’s Vision 2041 perspective plan, the envoy said their common goals would definitely bring about more powerful dynamics, more vigorous vitality, and an even brighter future for the bilateral relations.
Yao said he is ready to work with friends from all walks of life to steadily implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, continuously explore new growth areas and write a new chapter for the Bangladesh-China Strategic Cooperative Partnership.
Yao expressed his great pleasure to come to Bangladesh, the Pearl of the Bay of Bengal, to serve as 16th Ambassador of China to Bangladesh. As an important country in South Asia and a rapidly emerging economy, Bangladesh is playing an irreplaceable role in regional and international affairs. Yao thanked and paid a tribute to Bangladeshi friends from all walks of life for kind help and stern support to the betterment of China-Bangladesh relations.
Yao said that under the strategic guidance of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the China-Bangladesh Strategic Partnership of Cooperation has been developing fast and steadily. We keep enhancing mutual political trust, proactively synergize development strategies, promote cooperation in all fields, understand and support each other on core interests and major concerns, and jointly uphold international justice and true multilateralism.
Acknowledging that China has embarked on a new journey toward a modern socialist country in all respects while Bangladesh is striving with no effort spared for the splendid dream of “Sonar Bangla” by following the country’s Vision 2041 perspective plan, our common goals would definitely bring about more powerful dynamics, more vigorous vitality, and an even brighter future for our bilateral relations. Yao said that he is ready to work with friends from all walks of life to steadily implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, continuously explore new growth areas and write a new chapter for China-Bangladesh Strategic Cooperative Partnership.
Yao said that as the new Ambassador of China to Bangladesh, he would like to keep in extensive contacts with all Bangladeshi friends, familiarize himself with and respond to expectations of local people towards China-Bangladesh relations, continuously explore new growth points, and let the bilateral relations better benefit the people and the community at large. All happiness in life are results of unswerving efforts. For a promising tomorrow of China-Bangladesh relations, let’s trail the blaze, lead the way, and strive for the best.
Arriving at the Dhaka Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, Ambassador Yao Wen received warm hospitality from protocol official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, major leaders of the Chinese Embassy and other Embassy staffs as well as Chinese and Bangladeshi journalists.
China and Bangladesh have had diplomatic relations since 1976, five years after Bangladesh gained its independence. Since then, the two nations have built a “Closer Comprehensive Partnership of Cooperation” based on the values of equality, friendliness, and mutual benefit. Following that, both countries exchanged high-level meetings and visits, and they stepped up communication between their governments, legislatures, political parties, militaries, and non-governmental organizations. They enhanced channels for bilateral collaboration, such as diplomatic consultations, and joint economic and trade committees, and fostered communication and cooperation at the government-to-people level. Chinese ambassadors to Bangladesh have historically taken the lead in helping to establish this link. In this course, Li Jiming’s contributions to strengthening Bangladesh-China bilateral relations are commendable and worthy of recognition.
It is important to note that Bangladesh was the first nation in South Asia to join the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and sign the relevant MoU. BRI has made a lot of progress during the last three years. Payra Power Plant, Karnaphuli Tunnel, 8th Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge, Dasherkandi Sewerage Treatment Plant, and Bangladesh-China Friendship Exhibition Center are a few examples.
For 12 years in a row, China has been Bangladesh’s top trading partner. During the last three years, some major advancements have been made. China increased its investment in Bangladesh by almost triple in 2021, to $1.26 billion. Bangladesh is now enjoying duty-free access to 99 percent of products in Chinese market. Li Jiming predicts that the trade volume between the two countries will exceed $28 billion this year. It would be a historic record high in Bangladesh-China bilateral trade.
The future of China-Bangladesh friendship is highly correlated with the educational cooperation and exchanges between the two countries. Praising Ambassador Li for his significant contribution to advancing China-Bangladesh relations in the area of educational exchanges, Dr. Dipu Moni, Bangladesh’s Minister of Education, said the country has made significant development in this area in the last three years. She also lauded China for its support of Bangladeshi students studying there during the Covid-19 pandemic and for facilitating students stranded in Bangladesh returning to China to complete their higher studies.
Expectations from the New ambassador
In order to give the bilateral ties a positive direction and establish a strong rapport with Bangladesh, Ambassador Li Jiming accomplished an outstanding job. Bangladesh has enough reasons to thank Li Jiming. Bangladesh does, however, also anticipate that the momentum of the Bangladesh-China relationship would continue thriving further in the days to come. The incoming Chinese ambassador in Dhaka is expected to comprehend Bangladesh from his own perspective.
The outing Chinese ambassador expressed optimism that the Rohingyas will begin to return home by the next year. The new envoy can play an instrumental role to find a sustainable and dignified solution that will work for both the host and Rohingya communities. It is important to note that more than 1.2 million Rohingya have been generously hosted by Bangladesh. A country with 166 million people that is already overpopulated has been greatly impacted socioeconomically by these refugees. The Centre for Policy Dialogue estimates that it will cost about $7 billion to accommodate and support the Rohingyas in Bangladesh for the first five years before repatriation.
The new envoy has numerous opportunities to improve current bilateral ties. In 2026, Bangladesh is expected to leave the Least Developed Country (LDC) category. Bangladesh’s access to various LDC-specific preferential treatments and facilities will be restricted as a result, which will negatively affect its exports to European and North American markets, particularly those of RMG. The new ambassador could support Bangladesh in this area by offering technical assistance in formulating policies and export-development strategies that would enable Bangladeshi products to enter the Chinese market to meet its post-graduation hurdles.
Bangladesh expects increased FDI from China to help the economy of the nation. Chinese direct investment in Bangladesh has increased by 300 percent, and through the Belt and Road Initiative, China has pledged to invest more than $40 billion in joint ventures and infrastructure projects. These investments will greatly assist the Bangladeshi government by energizing economic activity, generating employment, boosting assets, and improving people’s quality of life through the development of infrastructure. The incoming Chinese ambassador must be aware of Bangladesh’s development priorities and work closely with that nation.
Advanced studies and enhanced cooperation are required in order to advance the Global Development Initiative (GDI), zero-tariff treatment to 99 percent of Bangladeshi exports to China, Bangladesh-China FTA, the taka-renminbi currency swap, promotion of the MoU on the Special Assistance Plan for Disaster Prevention and Mitigation and common development of Bangladesh-China economy. The new envoy can play a crucial role in these areas.
Along with upholding international diplomatic standards, the ambassador is also expected to expedite ties in the fields of technology, renewable energy, and educational scholarships. There are certain areas where the relationship between the two nations needs to be improved, including trade trips, cultural exchanges, and people-to-people connections. Without a doubt, the incoming envoy’s friendly efforts will have a significant impact on whether all of these goals are realized. Bangladesh, therefore, expects China to send a seasoned and competent diplomat who will “elevate” the two nations’ relationship to a “new height”.
The writer is independent researcher and freelance columnist, Dhaka.