Dhaka, Bangladesh
China expects fair polls in Bangladesh

China expects fair polls in Bangladesh

Diplomat says, assures striking $2.6b deal to fund PMB rail

News Desk Beijing would like to see "smooth and stable" polls in Bangladesh for a smooth transfer of power, a Chinese diplomat said in Dhaka Thursday, as parties here squabble over conduct of the election. The Chinese Embassy's economic and commercial counsellor, Li Guang Jun, conveyed the message at a press conference where he disclosed that his country would strike US$2.6-billion deal soon for funding Bangladesh's longest rail bridge alongside the under-construction Padma Multipurpose Bridge. He told the journalists that his government wants to see a "peaceful transition of power" in Bangladesh as in China. China is the biggest trade partner with $15 billion exports to Bangladesh. Its imports in the two-way trade, however, account for only around $1.0 billion. Responding to a question about their concern about elections here, he pointed out that they have "so many Chinese, and Chinese companies, and we are concerned about that". "We hope the election will be smooth and stable," he said when his comment was sought about the upcoming general election and its impact on business ties with China. The press briefing at the embassy was organised to publicise the first International Import Expo China is going to host on November 5-10. Jun said the trade exposition would create a platform for countries to engage in international trade and share business opportunities with each other. He said they invited Bangladesh and the export processing bureau has already showed their interest to join the expo. "It's a unique because it is focused on import." With the two-way trade of $16 billion, China is thelargest trading partner of Bangladesh. But Bangladesh's exports amount to $1 billion. The counsellor suggested that Bangladesh sign FTA with China to give the export a boost. He said the FTA would cover investments also, apart from trade. "When Chinese companies will invest in Bangladesh, the export products will be diversified," he said. "This will increase Bangladesh's exports." Currently, China has investments worth $300 million in Bangladesh. With the latest investments in the power sector, the figure will go up manifold, Jun said. For example, in Payra, China is investing $2.0 billion. Bangladesh will sign $2.6 billion loan deal with China's EXIM Bank to finance the rail link over the Padma bridge. (Inputs taken from bdnews24.com, other agencies)

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