Dhaka, Oct 14 (IANS) Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Bangladesh on Friday for a state visit, the first such visit by a Chinese head of state in 30 years.
Xi is scheduled to meet Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid, National Assembly Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Xinhua news agency reported.
China and Bangladesh established diplomatic ties in 1975. In 2010, Xi paid an official visit to the nation as Vice President.
Two-way trade between China and Bangladesh reached $14.7 billion in 2015, up 17 per cent year-on-year. China is currently Bangladesh’s largest trading partner, while Bangladesh is the third largest of China in South Asia.
Bangladesh, in dire need of capital for development, is a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The AIIB has approved $165 million in loans for a Bangladeshi project — the first batch of loan for the country from the China-led development bank.
As an important cooperative partner for China in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region, Bangladesh is working closely with China on the Belt and Road Initiative and an economic corridor linking the two countries, as well as India and Myanmar.
The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by Xi in 2013, refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It is aimed at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes.
In an interview with Xinhua, Hasina expressed confidence that Xi’s visit would usher in “a new era of intensive cooperation” in trade, investment and other sectors between the two nations.
Xi’s visit to Bangladesh will be a “milestone”, Chinese Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Kong Xuanyou said earlier, noting that both sides would make deals and bilateral relations would improve.
Xi met Hamid in November 2014 in Beijing.
During Hasina’s visit to China in June 2014, she said Bangladesh will continue to support China firmly on issues involving its core interests and major concerns.
Bangladesh is the second leg of Xi’s visit, which already took him to Cambodia.
He will also travel to the western Indian state of Goa to attend the eighth BRICS summit on the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Xi will return to Beijing on October 17.