It’ll focus on future challenges, opportunities

Experts both from Bangladesh and China are all set to get together at a symposium in Dhaka on December 8 (Saturday) to assess the Bangladesh-China relationship in the present context and identify the challenges and opportunities they are facing though their ties have already transformed into a strategic partnership.

Cosmos Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Bangladeshi conglomerate Cosmos Group, will host the symposium titled 'Bangladesh-China Relations: Prognosis for the Future' at Six Seasons Hotel in the city. UNB is the media partner of the event.

Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Zhang Zuo will attend the event as the chief guest while Chairman of Cosmos Foundation Enayetullah Khan will deliver the welcome speech.

Principal Research Fellow at Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore and a former Adviser to Bangladesh's previous caretaker government Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury will chair the inaugural session.

Ahead of the event, Ambassador Zuo said China and Bangladesh have always remained good friends during the 43 years of diplomatic relations.

"Especially, after the successful state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in October, 2016, the China-Bangladesh relationship was elevated to a Strategic Partnership of Cooperation, and thus started a new chapter in our bilateral relations," he told UNB, the sister concern of Dhaka Courier.

The symposium will be part of the Cosmos Foundation's 'Dialogue' series, in which a high-level expert panel is tasked with tackling a particularly pressing issue of the day, followed by the participation of an informed and engaging audience.

The panel will comprise Prof Li Tao, Executive Director of the Institute of South Asian Studies at Sichuan University in China; Yuan Jirong, Chief Journalist at the India Bureau of the People's Daily; historian and media personality Afsan Chowdhury; and Dr Imtiaz Ahmed, a professor at the Department of International Relations of Dhaka University.

In 2017, the bilateral trade value reached US$ 16 billion dollars, 5.8 percent higher than last year's, with China remaining the number 1 trade partner of Bangladesh.

In the first half of this year, data shows, the bilateral trade value stands at US$ 9.35 billion, with a growth rate of 17.6 percent year on year.

China and Bangladesh share close people-to-people bond, similar national realities, and complementary development goals.

"We would like to preserve our friendship with the people of Bangladesh for generations to come, and we're ready to give Bangladesh a higher priority in China's diplomacy, in order to become great partners of win-win cooperation, great friends with openness and inclusiveness, close brothers for opening up and innovations, and good neighbours who learn from each other," said Ambassador Zuo.

The people of Bangladesh and China are bound together by ancient ties though the formal diplomatic relations commenced in 1975 and the state in both countries has shown itself to be sensitive to the historic depth of people-to-people contact.

As China embarked on its inexorable march to prosperity in the opening decades of the 21st century, it emerged as a valued partner for Bangladesh's own development.

That visit served to cement Bangladesh as a key outpost in the "Belt and Road Initiative" (BRI), President Xi's grand vision for the world that aims to connect the countries of Southeast Asia to Western Europe.

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