Bangladesh cannot be called an industrialised nation yet, but it is moving in that direction and Chinese companies will continue to support the trajectory with investments, said Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming.
Speaking at the latest instalment of the "DCAB Talk" at the Jatiya Press Club in Dhaka, he said Bangladesh was working on infrastructural development and had the supply of labour to meet demand. Using these opportunities, the country is moving towards industrialisation, for which China will act as a strategic partner.
He also emphasised the need for peace and stability for this progress to continue.
Peace and stability are preconditions for development. Any problem, therefore, should be solved in a democratic and peaceful way, he said.
Li Jiming said Bangladesh is doing well in the garment and textile sectors, while the commodities sector is also marching forward.
As an economic powerhouse accounting for 18.5% of the world economy, China has always been committed to joint development with neighbouring countries, including Bangladesh, said the ambassador, highlighting the 98% duty exemption given to Bangladeshi products entering the Chinese market.
"We foresee a promising outlook in terms of relations with Bangladesh. We are ready to work with Bangladesh for a brighter future," he said.
He, however, pointed out that it took more time and money to implement projects in the country, with Chinese companies losing out on profit because of this.
Asked on Bangladesh's concerns over declining foreign currency reserves, he said the problem was created by the Ukraine-Russia war and sanctions.
But, currency swap between Bangladesh and China, and Bangladesh's increasing export to China or elsewhere can be the ways out, the diplomat said.
About the Chinese debt trap theory, he said there is no Chinese debt trap in Bangladesh or anywhere else in the world.
Saying Bangladesh's economic situation was better than Sri Lanka's, he added that western commercial loans and loans from multi-international financial institutions accounted for the majority of the foreign debt of Sri Lanka. Chinese loans account for less than 10% of the total foreign debt of the island nation.
In Bangladesh, Chinese debt accounted for only 6% of all foreign debt, he said.
Bangladesh's debt level is also lower in comparison to the debt level of many other countries, even developed countries, he added.
The foreign debt of the US is $31 trillion and the GDP is only $24 trillion, he said.
On the Rohingya crisis, Ambassador Li said China is making efforts for early repatriation of the Rohingyas to their homeland Myanmar.
Asked why the Rohingya issue is not being solved, Li Jiming said China is seriously and sincerely working towards that end.
"We are working silently. Surely, it will have its impacts," he said.
After Bangladesh sought Chinese support when there were border rules violations in the Myanmar-Bangladesh border recently, the Chinese ambassador in Myanmar called on the Myanmar authorities and conveyed the message, he added.
The Myanmar side said they will repatriate the Rohingyas and are preparing. But the problem now is the fighting between the armed groups and military in Rakhine state. Therefore, Bangladesh needs to wait for now.
Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB) organised its flagship programme where DCAB President Rezaul Karim Lotus and General Secretary AKM Moinuddin, also the diplomatic correspondent at UNB, spoke at the programme alongside the Chinese ambassador.