Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh, Yao Wen, has said the Global Development Initiative (GDI), a twin sister of BRI, is aimed at supporting the timely achievement of all 17 goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by revitalizing global development partnership and promoting stronger, greener and healthier global development.
“We hope that Bangladesh would make good use of China’s aid, preferential loans, and the Global Development and South-South Cooperation Fund to actively carry out policy dialogue, experience sharing, capacity building and practical cooperation,” the envoy told UNB during his first interview since his arrival here late last year.
Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward GDI at the United Nations in 2021.
The Global Development Initiative promotes international cooperation in eight priority areas, namely poverty alleviation, food security, pandemic response and vaccines, financing for development, climate change and green development, industrialization, digital economy and connectivity in the digital-era, said the ambassador.
“All these are also the focus of Bangladesh in its Vision 2041 perspective plan,” he said.
According to the United Nations, over 100 countries and international organizations have expressed their support to the GDI and 68 countries have joined the Group of Friends of the GDI at the UN.
In July, the first high-level meeting of the Global Action Forum for Shared Development was held in Beijing, with more than 800 guests from 158 countries and international organizations attending online and offline.
Minister of Planning MA Mannan took part in the event on behalf of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh and China will celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties in 2025.
“It would be a perfect occasion to review achievements in the past and map forward for the future,” the ambassador said.
He promised that China would do its part to help Bangladesh graduate from the LDC status by 2026, and fuel joint development to achieve respective national dreams which are “well-connected”.
“Practical cooperation is the cornerstone of China-Bangladesh relations. While implementing projects agreed during high-level visits back in 2016 and 2019, we will take the initiative with Bangladesh to figure out more under the Belt and Road Initiative and the Global Development Initiative on connectivity infrastructure, renewable energy, blue economy, digital empowerment, so on and so forth,” said the Chinese envoy.
In terms of trade, he said, local exporters are encouraged to fully leverage China’s 98 percent zero-tariff treatment for Bangladeshi products and showcase the “Made in Bangladesh” brand on expositions held in China, such as China International Import Expo, China-South Asia Expo and Canton Fair.
The Chinese Economic and Industrial Zone in Chattogram should eye high-end and high-value industries to serve the Smart Bangladesh development strategy as well as the high-quality development paradigm of China, he said.
“We’d encourage Chinese entrepreneurs to increase investment in promising fields like new energy, ICT, advanced manufacturing, and agri-product processing,” Ambassador Yao said, adding that he would also push forward the cooperation on disaster management and relief, military exchanges, law enforcement coordination and maritime cooperation during his tenure in Dhaka.
“Of course, as the Chinese ambassador, I’d play my role in mediating between Bangladesh and Myanmar to facilitate early and sustainable repatriation of displaced people from the Rakhine State,” he said.
Producing Green Energy
Responding to a question, the envoy said China, a key contributor to the Paris Agreement, pledged to peak its carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, and to reach carbon neutrality by 2060.
“By 2035, China will broadly establish eco-friendly ways of work and life, lower carbon emissions after reaching a peak, improve the environment and largely accomplish the goal of developing a ‘Beautiful China’,” he added.
Bangladesh also faces critical challenges of environmental degradation and climate change.
“Fortunately, the country has become well aware of the gravity of these issues, and has taken plausible actions,” the Chinese envoy said, noting that the Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan (MCPP) adopted in 2020 plays a key role in guiding the country’s development paradigm into the track of green transition by 2030.
“As Bangladesh and China converge on environmental goals, significant potentials emerge for the two countries to synergize on green development strategies, thereby building a shared human community in harmony with nature,” said Ambassador Yao.
“In fact, we’ve already kickstarted cooperation in this regard. When I visited Cox’s Bazar a few months ago, I saw photovoltaic panels of Chinese brand on top of many roofs. A wind farm project is also being built there by Chinese contractors,” he added.
Next Generation of Green Traffic
It was reported that Bangladesh had its first electric vehicle (EV) charging station installed in Dhaka earlier this month.
“I read it in the newspaper. But there are only 35 EV registered in Bangladesh for the time being. That is a negligible amount compared to the 170 million population of Bangladesh,” he said.
China is a key designer and manufacturer of EV. There are over 16 million EV and mixed-fuel vehicles running on the roads in China, and the number is still soaring.
“We would encourage more Chinese EV manufacturers to come to Bangladesh, explore the local market, and meet the demands of Bangladeshi people, thereby helping Bangladesh transit towards the next generation of green traffic,” said the ambassador.