Wang Yi is visiting Dhaka amid heightened tension over Taiwan and the Russia-Ukraine war, and foreign relations experts believe Beijing and Dhaka should both focus on tackling the situation during the Chinese foreign minister’s tour.
Noting that the conflicts and tensions have impacted the global market, driving import costs and dollar price, former ambassador to China Munshi Faiz Ahmed said, “[Bangladesh and China] should try to find out ways to sail through the hard time through cooperation.”
Faiz, who also headed Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies, does not think Wang Yi’s visit is aimed particularly at geopolitical purposes.
“China is the most important partner of Bangladesh in socio-economic development. Chinese companies are implementing big projects funded by others because they are experienced in these jobs. So, it is natural that officials of the two countries will visit [each other].
“And Bangladesh is also important to China because they have investments here. I think we should not see the visit as something out of the ordinary.”
Yi visited Dhaka for the last time in November 2017, a year after Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Bangladesh tour.
Asked what message Yi is bringing this time, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam said, “He [Yi] can better say this. Let’s wait until he arrives.”
“We are seeing the US, China and Russia at the global level. We should see China, Bangladesh and India in the same way at the regional level. I think they [Yi] are coming to give a message that they do not want to ignore any country’s importance at any level,” said Lailufar Yasmin, professor of international relations at Dhaka University.
Asked if the US-led alliance, Quad, will be discussed during Wang Yi’s visit, Shahriar said, “We don’t have any agenda on the matter. But we are ready if they raise the issue. It’s our internal affair what our relation will be with other groupings.”
First established in 2007, Quad is an informal strategic dialogue established between the US, Japan, Australia and India. The initiative is widely regarded as a response to the growing economic and military power of China.
Chinese Ambassador Li Jiming’ss comments in May 2021 that Bangladesh should refrain from participating in the group prompted Dhaka to assert that Bangladesh will take a decision based on "neutral and balanced" foreign policy.
Shahriar said Bangladesh expects to sign five to seven memoranda of understanding and agreements during Wang Yi’s visit.
These may include the handover of the Eighth Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge on the Kocha river in Pirojpur. China has funded the three-kilometre bridge linking Pirojpur with Khulna.
The two countries may also sign a deal on the funding of a project on disaster management.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said they would discuss the progress of the MoUs and agreements signed during Xi’s 2016 visit.
He also said Bangladesh is not taking new loans from China this time.