Dhaka and Beijing today agreed on speedy solution to the protracted Rohingya crisis as Chinese President Xi Jinping and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina held talks here.
“The two leaders have agreed on solving the Rohingya problem fast and said it cannot be kept unresolved,” Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque told reporters after the meeting held at Diaoyuati State Guest House here this evening.
The foreign secretary said the Chinese president and the Bangladesh prime minister added that two years have passed after the signing of agreements to this effect.
“There is no disagreement among us on how the problem will be solved … the Rohingyas must go back to their homeland,” the foreign secretary quoted the two leaders as saying.
Haque said the two leaders mentioned that the representatives of the two countries will work together in this regard and they will pursue “good will” to prevail on Myanmar for the repatriation of the Rohingyas.
Bangladesh Ambassador to China M Fazlul Karim and PM’s Speech Writer M Nazrul Islam were present at the press briefing.
The prime minister said Bangladesh is now hosting 1.1 million Rohingyas which is a big challenge for the country environmentally and from the security aspect.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh seeks “good will” from the Chinese government so that the Rohingyas can return to their motherland.
In reply, the Chinese president said they previously worked with both Bangladesh and Myanmar for solving the Rohingya crisis and will continue to do so.
“We want the Rohingyas to go back,” the foreign secretary quoted the Chinese president as saying.
Jinping said the Myanmar minister who works on the Rohingya issue may visit Bangladesh again and it is expected that it will create another possibility for solving the problem.
The foreign secretary said the prime minister apprised the Chinese president of the problem and this discussion also came up at the banquet.
Haque said as some questions were raised by the Chinese president, the prime minister highlighted various aspects of the Rohingya crisis.
Sheikh Hasina said the Rohingyas do not want to go back to their homeland as they have a fear that they may be persecuted again.
In this connection, the prime minister requested the Chinese president to use their “good will”.
Jinping said as this is happening not beyond the international attention, the possibility of its repetition is very less.
“We will try as much as possible to solve the problem … before us both Bangladesh and China are close friends and they are our equal friends, none is more or less,” he said.
The Chinese president assured that as Bangladesh and Myanmar are developing countries they will see the interests of the two countries.
The foreign secretary said the talks between the two leaders took place in a very cordial environment.
The discussion was very friendly and open which expressed different equations and chemistry, he said.
Haque said the body language which they saw during the talks was very encouraging.
“When the Chinese president was leaving the banquet, he told the prime minister said that we will continue to remain true friends of each other,” the foreign secretary said.
“Through the comment, the relations between the two leaders have been expressed,” he said.
“Simultaneously we see that a matured narrative has come in the context of relations of the two countries,” Haque said.
He said the Chinese president also mentioned that Bangladesh is a friendly neighbour of China.
“We both the neighbours are in a crucial phase of development,” he said quoting the president.
Jinping highly appreciated Bangladesh’s GDP growth and both the countries could learn from each other’s development.
The foreign secretary said the two leaders put emphasis that their goal is development of the people.
He said the Chinese president pointed out that there are common understandings between the two countries both on the national policy level and the international level.
Jinping said they could understand each other’s challenges and priorities. “It’s the expression of maturity of relationships,” the foreign secretary said.
The Chinese president said his country always remains beside Bangladesh’s development strides and will remain in future. “We hope that it will be deeper and stronger day by day,” he remarked.
The two leaders said they will try to take the relations between the two countries to a new height, the foreign secretary said.
Turning to the projects being implemented in Bangladesh with Chinese assistance, the premier said during the Chinese President’s visit to Bangladesh in 2016, as many as 27 agreements and MoUs were signed between the two countries. She put emphasis on expediting the implementation process of the projects.
Sheikh Hasina requested the Chinese President to ease the terms and condition of loan agreements for timely disbursement of fund for expediting the implementation process of the projects. In response, Xi Jinping said he will take proper measures about the matter.
Talking about trade and investment issue, the prime minister said Chinese companies should invest in Bangladesh with a buy-back facility to ease the big trade imbalance against Bangladesh.
Noting that two economic zones remain designed for Chinese companies in Bangladesh, she said the Chinese entrepreneurs can make investment also in other economic zones as her government setting up 100 economic zones in the country.
In response, the Chinese President said they are aware about it and will make all sorts of efforts to reduce the trade imbalance. He said they encourage the Chinese investors to make their investment in Bangladesh.
The Chinese side discussed the trade gap issue very rationally, Haque said. Xi Jinping always put emphasis on open trade, free trade, multilateral trade, trade based on rules and effectiveness of WTO.
In this context, Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh always believe in open trade, transparent business, multilateralism and WTO. There was convergence of options over multilateralism between the two leaders, said the foreign secretary.
The Bangladesh Prime Minister sought Chinese assistance for implementing the Delta Plan 2100, setting up a Climate Adaptation Centre and implementation of Teesta River Comprehensive Management and Restoration project.
In response, the Chinese President assured that they will help set up the Climate Adaptation Centre and consider extending Chinese assistance for Teesta River Comprehensive Management and Restoration Project.
Both the sides pledged they will work together in the United Nations, Haque said
In the meeting, the two sides gave very importance over BCIM economic corridor saying the corridor initiative will have to be revived working together with India.
The BCIM corridor will open a new market for China, Bangladesh, India and Myanmar, they said.
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 and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam, among others, were on the Bangladesh side during the bilateral talks between Sheikh Hasina and Xi
The prime minister later joined a banquet hosted by the Chinese President at the Diaoyutai State Guest House.-BSS