China's commercial and cultural influence on the Muslim world, including Bangladesh, is noticeable. Over the past few decades, China has not only been conducting economic activities with Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, India, Vietnam and Myanmar. China's trade relations with almost all countries in the Middle East are very warm and long-lasting. Now there is no country in the world where China does not have a variety of products. China has already been able to establish its strong position in the market of all kinds of products around the world.
China's big strategy is that China never interferes in the internal politics of any country.
So China easily develops good relations with any country and those relations are long lasting. China puts its own business interests first. On the other hand, Bangladesh is in a strategic position of geopolitics. Therefore, India and the United States have the same interest in Bangladesh as China. China-Bangladesh relations are very old. China's diplomatic relations with Bangladesh were established in 1976, long after the country became independent. In 1950 and 1960, the then Prime Minister of China, Zhou Enlai, visited East Pakistan twice. In 1957, Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani visited China. Later, Awami League President Hossain Shaheed Suhrawardy visited China in 1957 as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. In 1976, President Ziaur Rahman established close ties with China. Later, President Ershad's visit to China in 1987 led to the development of China-Bangladesh relations. When Begum Khaleda Zia was the Prime Minister, the Chinese Prime Minister Jiabao visited Bangladesh. In 2005, both countries declared "Bangladesh China Friendship Year ". In 2007, China donated 1.0 million US dollars for the first time to the victims of the cyclone. At present, China-Bangladesh relations are very good. The two countries are moving forward economically, socially and culturally through multidimensional cooperation. Bangladesh-China relations are business-related. In 1997, the first company called Power China came forward to invest in the power sector in Bangladesh. Over the past few years, more than 20 Chinese companies have been investing in Bangladesh. Power China Company is currently working on 14 projects. The investment in this case is about 4.70 billion US dollars. The company continues to work in the planning, design, project, operations and maintenance sectors.
As a non-Muslim big neighbour, China is a big partner in our development. Bangladesh-China diplomatic relations are 45 years old. The current relationship is at an all-time high.
Bangladesh-China International Conference Centre is a beautiful, eye-catching, important establishment, an example of Sino-Bangladesh relations which is located in Sher-e-Bangla Nagar. We have been benefiting from that installation for a long time. The present name is Bangabandhu International Conference Centre. It was established in 2001. Launched in 2002 the cost was 5.0 million US dollars. The Chinese government later donated the entire hall to Bangladesh. This is a great example of China's friendship.
According to the news published in the newspaper on June 7, 2020, the government of Bangladesh has undertaken 17 development projects on a priority basis. The estimated cost of all these projects is 11.5 million US dollars.
The projects prepared on the basis of the said priority have been taken up by China-Bangla Investment Corporation for the first time. 17 development projects have been sent to the Chinese government for approval for investment.
Of the 17 projects, three are in the power sector. The cost of the project Power Grid Strengthening Project is estimated at 960 million US dollars. The cost of the Over loaded transformer changing project is estimated at 230.59 million US dollars. The cost of the third System loss rejection project is estimated at 200 million US dollars.
Bangladesh Railway has four development projects. The Joydebpur-Ishwardi double line project cost is estimated at 1045.59 million US dollars. Akhaura- Sylhet meter gauge line will be converted to a double-gauge line which is the second railway development project. The cost of the project is estimated at 1272.9 million US dollars. The third development project is the construction of Joydebpur-Mymensingh-Jamalpur double gauge line at a cost of 581.28 million US dollars. The fourth railway development project is construction of Inland Container depot. The cost is estimated at 200 million US dollars.
Two development projects have been placed under the Roads Department. The first is Dhaka- Expressway. The cost is estimated at 1155.18 million US dollars. The second is the Sitakunda-Cox's Bazar Marine Drive Expressway project. The cost of the project is estimated at 2856.56 million US dollars.
The Ministry of ICT has two of the 17 development projects. The first project is the Digital Conductivity project. The cost of the project could be 837 million US dollars. The second project is to improve the quality of life of the people in urban and rural areas by using ICT. The estimated cost of the project is 500 million US dollars.
One of the projects has been taken up by the Ministry of Information on a priority basis. The project is to build six full-fledged TV stations. The cost of the project is estimated at 125 million US dollars.
There are two projects under the Ministry of Local Government. The first is the construction of Rajshahi WASA water treatment plant. The estimated cost is 276 million US dollars. The second project under the Ministry of Local Government is the Sanitation and waste management project for municipal areas. The cost is estimated at 150 million US dollars.
In addition, there are two more development projects. One is the Jute Mill Modernization Project. The cost is estimated at 280 million US dollars. This project is under the Ministry of Jute. Besides, the economic zone project in Chattogram will cost 221 million US dollars.
One of the 17 priority projects is under the Ministry of Shipping. That is the Mongla port modernization project. The cost of the project is estimated at 353.52 million US dollars.
The projects were sent to the Chinese government in June 2020. Already, both the government and China have begun work to speed up the projects.
If China's ongoing projects and potential projects in the future become visible in Bangladesh, China and Bangladesh will reach a unique level of relations.
China maintains good relations with South Asian countries and continues its trade strategy. China has been conducting small to large investment activities with Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, India, Vietnam and Myanmar. China has long pursued a policy with South Asian countries that opposes the principle of hegemony and supports a multilateral world policy. China, with its growing economic power, regional power and global influence, and in cooperation with other Asian countries, has been contributing to the establishment of peace and justice in the world. China will play a special role in the international political arena in safeguarding the interests of Asia.
China's investment and various cooperation in Bangladesh will further deepen China's relationship with the people of this Muslim-dominated country, which will have a special impact on our social and economic spheres. With the establishment of industries, especially in the special industrial zones created by China, the start of production will create huge employment opportunities in Bangladesh. Millions of workers, employees and officials will create new fields to earn a lot of foreign exchange. If these 17 development projects are implemented, the dynamism of the country's economy will increase manifold and will provide a big boost to growth.
The author is former Vice President of FBCCI, BTMEA, BGMEA, Association of Private Universities of Bangladesh, Founding Chairman of Eastern University, Islamic Finance and Investment Ltd, Australian International School, and Abul Quasem Haider Mohilla College, Sandwip, Chattogram, and former member of Senate, University of Dhaka.