Desk report, July 04: Beijing on Thursday assured Dhaka that it would try to persuade Myanmar for taking back its nationals from Bangladesh as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang held bilateral talks here in China.During the talks, the Chinese premier agreed with the Bangladesh prime minister on resolving the protracted crisis fast. “There is no doubt that it’s a big problem for Bangladesh,” he said.
Li Keqiang, however, stressed the need for solving the crisis bilaterally and assured that China will help end the crisis.
“Both Bangladesh and Myanmar are friends of China … we previously helped the two countries to solve the Rohingya problem and we’ll continue our efforts,” Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque quoted the Chinese prime minister as saying while briefing reporters after the talks.
The Chinese premier said the two countries will have to find out a solution to this end through discussion.
In this connection, Keqiang mentioned that China has sent its foreign minister to Myanmar twice. “If needed, we’ll send our minister again to Myanmar so that the two countries get a solution to the crisis through discussion,” he said.
Shahidul Haque said in the meeting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gave emphasis on peace and stability in the region to achieve the cherished goals of development.
“But peace and stability are being affected in the region due to the Rohingya crisis,” she said.
“With passage of time, the challenge will be bigger and speedy repatriation of the Rohingyas to their homeland is its only solution,” she said.
The Bangladesh premier said the problem will be solved with only going back of the Rohingyas to their motherland.
She highlighted in which context the Rohingyas are not going back and said Myanmar will have to solve the problem and Bangladesh has nothing to do in this regard.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh has made bilateral arrangements for Rohingya repatriation.
“We made all types of efforts in this regard, but the Rohingyas don’t want to go back as they are afraid of further atrocities,” she said.
To remove the fear, the prime minister, underscored the need for playing a role by China in building a conducive environment so that the Rohingyas can go back to their homeland with safety, dignity and own identity.
“They must have an access to their land property,” she said.
Responding to the statement of Bangladesh Prime Minister, Mr. Keqiang told her that Beijing was convinced that the Rohingya crisis is a big challenge for Bangladesh.
He thanked the Bangladesh prime minister for her humanitarian response to the crisis of Rohingyas.
The foreign secretary said bilateral talks between the two sides were held generally on five issues.
Those are – broad economy and trade issue, project implementation-related issue, BCIM or connectivity issue, visa issue and the Rohingya issue, he said.
The foreign secretary said the Chinese premier termed Bangladesh as a partner of China in South Asia.
“We value our relationship with Bangladesh and would like to take it to a higher level … we’ve a strategic partnership and we hope that it will be deepened and strengthened further,” Li Keqiang said.
The Chinese prime minister hoped that Bangladesh will keep up its development spree and China will continue to support Bangladesh in this regard.
In this connection, Sheikh Hasina said her government gives priority to peace, stability and development for the welfare of the people.
At the outset of the meeting, the Chinese prime minister congratulated Sheikh Hasina on her re-election as the prime minister for the fourth time.
The meeting kicked off around 11 am at the Great Hall of People, a state building located at the western edge of Tiananmen Square in Beijing. It is used for legislative and ceremonial activities by the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and ruling Communist Party of China.
Earlier, on her arrival at the Great Hall of the People at around 10:45 am, Sheikh Hasina was accorded a grand state reception.
The Chinese premier welcomed the Bangladesh prime minister when she reached the Great Hall of the People and the two premiers introduced their respective delegation members to each other.
Later, Bangladesh prime minister was given a guard of honour by a smartly turned out contingent drawn from the three services. Accompanied by the Chinese prime minister, Sheikh Hasina took salute from a decorated dais and later inspected the guards.
National anthems of the two countries were played and gun salutes were also given on the occasion.
Sheikh Hasina reached China on July 1 on a five-day bilateral official visit to attend the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting and hold talks with the top Chinese leaders.
Talking about economy and trade issue, the Chinese prime minister said the volume of trade between China and Bangladesh witnessed 16 percent growth last year.
In response, Sheikh Hasina stressed the need for removing the trade imbalance between the two countries as the trade growth and imbalance are in favour of China.
“So, China should invest more in Bangladesh, develop factories and industries with the buy-back guarantee,” she said.
Mentioning that Bangladesh is setting up 100 economic zones, she urged China to come up with investment in the zones.
In this context, Li Keqiang said they do not want a balance trade relation and assured to work on reducing the trade imbalance.
Noting that 97 percent Bangladeshi products now enjoy duty free access to Chinese market, the Chinese premier said they would try to exempt the duty from the rest three percent of Bangladeshi goods.
China is closely monitoring the outcomes of the FTA feasibility study, he added. About project implementation issues, Sheikh Hasina said during the Chinese President’s visit to Bangladesh in 2016, Dhaka signed a number of agreements and MoUs with Beijing to implement various projects in Bangladesh.
She put emphasis on expediting the implementation process of the projects.
The prime minister requested China to ease the terms and condition of loan agreements and take necessary measures for timely disbursement of fund for implementation of the projects.
In this regard, the Chinese PM said China will consider the matter.
The Bangladesh prime minister sought Chinese assistance for implementing the Delta Plan 2100, setting up a Climate Adaptation Centre and mobilizing resources in implementation of Teesta River Comprehensive Management and Restoration project.
She also called upon China to expedite the implementation process of Dhaka-Chattogram-Cox’s Bazar high-speed train communication.
Regarding the visa issue, Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh provides preferential visa to Chinese nationals under the umbrella of “on arrival visa” arrangements.
But similar treatment is not offered for Bangladeshi nationals travelling to China.
She hoped that China will ease the visa procedure for Bangladesh passport holders, students and businessmen in particular.
About BCIM Economic Corridor, the two prime ministers highlighted its importance and potentials to connect markets of the region and said both countries agreed for quick implementation of the BCIM corridor.
Bangladesh Ambassador to China Md Fazlul Karim and PM’s Speech Writer Md Nazrul Islam were present at the briefing. Chairperson of National Advisory Committee for Autism and Neurodevelopment Disorders Saima Wazed Hossain, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, PM’s Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman F Rahman, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam and Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Foreign Affairs Ministry Muhammad Faruk Khan, among others, were on the Bangladesh side during the bilateral talks between the two prime ministers.
Later, the prime minister joined a banquet hosted by her Chinese counterpart at the Great Hall of the People.