Shahidul Haque was briefing the media after the meeting of the delegations of the two countries at the Prime Minister’s Office on Friday. The Prime Minister’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim was also present.
At the meeting, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina led the Bangladesh delegation while the Chinese side was headed by President Xi.
Haque said the cooperative ties between Bangladesh and China had transferred to ‘strategic ties’ through the visit.
The foreign secretary said the two countries had signed 15 agreements and MoUs and 12 loan and mutual agreements after the meeting.
He could not disclose the financial aspects related to the deals immediately, saying it would take some days to know the details and the financial packages covering the deals.
The two leaders also unveiled the plaques of six ‘big’ projects, Haque said.
He said the bilateral meeting, held in a ‘friendly environment’, was ‘fruitful’. “The Chinese president’s visit is historic. A new era has been heralded between the two countries,” he said.
“The close comprehensive cooperation between Bangladesh and China has transferred to a strategic relationship. Now the ties between the two countries will deepen and extend further and a new image of relations will be visible at various levels," Haque said.
According to the foreign secretary, the two sides discussed all related issues, including cooperation in the fields of commerce, investment and maritime.
Xi Jinping, the first Chinese president to visit Bangladesh since Li Xiannian’s 1986 tour, is in Dhaka to push forward cooperation within its ‘One Belt, One Road’ policy, a framework initiated in 2013.
Haque said the issues discussed at the meeting had a ‘political side’ and visits at various levels would take place in the future.
The secretary stated that Bangladesh-China relations had a “long history, especially in trade and investment”.
“New areas in trade and investment have been discovered. A new framework deal on ICT has been discussed and an MoU has been signed,” he said.
“Maritime is one of the new areas. An MoU on large-scale cooperation in the sector has been signed,” Haque said.
“Besides these, you’ll see new initiatives in new sectors,” he added.
The foreign secretary said the Chinese officials “hinted at investment in the readymade garment and jute sectors”.
A framework deal on increasing Bangladesh’s production capacity was also signed. China will transfer technology and help Bangladesh build new entities under the deal, Haque said.
“Both leaders have said the Bangladesh-China relationship has improved to the strategic level because it was based on mutual trust and was time-tested,” he said.
He said the Chinese president mentioned “Bangladesh’s achievement under Sheikh Hasina’s leadership” several times.
“China also has something to learn from Bangladesh’s history of women’s empowerment,” he quoted President Xi as saying during the meeting.
The two countries have agreed to work together to combat militancy and terrorism, the foreign secretary said, and added an MoU in this regard had also been signed.
“An MoU on capacity building and information sharing has also been signed,” he said.
The six projects whose plaques were unveiled by Hasina and Xi include the Karnaphuli Multi-Lane Tunnel project to link the two banks of the Karnaphuli river in Chittagong, the Confucius Institute at Dhaka University and the Tier-4 National Data Centre in Gazipur’s Kaliakoir.
The other projects are Shahjalal Fertiliser Company Limited in Fenchuganj, a 1320 megawatt thermal power plant in Payra and a 1320 MW coal-fired power plant in Chittagong’s Banshkhali.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith, Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed, Public Administration Minister Syed Ashraful Islam, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal were in the Bangladesh team at the meeting.
Sheikh Hasina welcomed the Chinese president when he arrived at the PMO at 3pm.
Earlier, President Md Abdul Hamid received President Xi Jinping at the airport when the aircraft carrying the Chinese leader touched down just before noon.