B'desh snub compels China min to change visit dates

Bangladesh has snubbed China with the Sheikh Hasina government compelling foreign minister Wang Yi to change dates of his visit to Dhaka in August.

In an unusual diplomatic move, Beijing had announced Wang’s Dhaka visit early August without consulting the Bangladesh government. The dates of the visit have now been tentatively fixed around August 7-8 after consultations, ET has learnt. Earlier the Chinese Foreign Ministry had unilaterally announced other dates for Wang’s visit.

This is the first high-level visit from China to Dhaka in the last five years notwithstanding growth in trade ties and increase in Chinese investment in Bangladesh across sectors.

“Yes, the Chinese foreign minister wants to visit Dhaka. But as I will be on a pre-scheduled visit to New York and Cambodia, I have requested them (China) to change the date of his visit,” Bangladesh foreign minister AK Abdul Momen told reporters in Dhaka on Friday. Wang Yi will be visiting Bangladesh as part of his regional tour to a few Asean countries, including Cambodia and Mongolia.

Wang last visited Dhaka in November 2017. Diplomatic sources in Dhaka stated that besides strategic cooperation between the countries, Beijing was interested in discussing political and economic crises.

A number of pending issues between the two countries are likely to be addressed during the Chinese minister’s tour of Bangladesh. These include renewal of some memorandums of understanding regarding disaster preparedness, cultural cooperation and handover of the 8th Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge over the Kocha river in Pirojpur to the Bangladesh authorities. The 2.96-km bridge has been constructed with Chinese funds.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Global Security Initiative and Global Development Initiative could be discussed during the visit.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Hina Rabbani Khar, who was also planning to visit Dhaka, has postponed her trip.

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Roy Walsh

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