China has made immense contributions to Bangladesh's efforts to meet its development goals with a key focus on building economic independence for the country, said an influential member of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Cabinet.
In an exclusive interview with Xinhua on Tuesday in Bangladeshi's capital Dhaka, the country's Information Minister Hasanul Huq Inu said "If we look back we see that from Day one (of diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and China established in 1975), China has come up very boldly and energetically to cooperate in our economic emancipation."
"That is why over the last 40 years China has become one of Bangladesh's largest development partners," said Inu, also president of the Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD), an ally of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ruling grand alliance, which has been strongly maintaining its One China policy.
"We Bangladeshi's believe in a peaceful rise and we think that for the development of the economy, peace is needed. So we don't want to poke our nose in others' affairs," he said.
Inu, who is in his seventies, said, "There is a strong political commitment to the Chinese people. So I think under these circumstances Bangladesh and China -- government to government and people to people -- will have closer friendly relations."
Not only has China been cooperating in education, the power sector, the information, communications and technology sector, but China has extended its support in the defense sector, said Inu, a graduate in Chemical Engineering from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology BUET).
"As you know Bangladesh is one of the great peacekeepers of the world. We need a modern army and they must know how to handle the latest technology in defense mechanisms. China is training our army personnel and equipping them with the latest equipment. Not only the army, China is also extending support to our Navy and Air force," said the leader, who started his political career in 1969 as the general secretary of Chhatra League (student wing of Bangladesh Awami League) in BUET.
"China has greatly helped with Bangladesh's defense development," said Inu, who became a minister in 2012 and was charged with the information ministry portfolio.
Inu said that "Chinese President Xi Jinping has a dream for China. So does our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has her dreams, including mission 2021 and vision 2041, for Bangladesh."
Bangladesh wants to become a rich and affluent society by 2041, he said, adding "The Chinese dream is the renewal of the Chinese nation. And Sheikh Hasina's dream is the revival of the Bengali nation and the Bangladeshi economy."
"That is why we are very pleased at the launching of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the initiative taken by China," he continued.
"We appreciate globalization but present day globalization is uneven. So that is not good for a developing country like Bangladesh. Here the AIIB is a great idea which will help the developing nations and the regional nationals of this eastern side of the world."
The valiant Freedom Fighter, who was made the founding general secretary of the Jatiya Krishak League (peasant wing of Hasina's ruling Bangladesh Awami League) in May 1972 by Bangladeshi's Founding Father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, also took the opportunity to thank the leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping for development initiatives like the "Belt and Road" and BCIM EC (Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar-Economic Corridor).
"I think that this old silk road is being revived properly. It has a 132 billion U.S. dollar potential. So investing dollars in the silk road and reconnecting all the nations which were connected is great economic planning," said Inu.
Regarding the bilateral trade between Bangladesh and China, he said China is one of the largest sources of machinery and raw materials for Bangladeshi manufacturing industries
"I think China is helping our economy," he said. "As you know one of the most important components of the economy is the garment and textile industry. China is a great performer in this industry."
He further said "We're deeply pleased that China has recently announced a zero tariff policy for 4,762 Bangladeshi products that will surely boost Bangladesh's exports to the Chinese market."
"Currently Bangladesh needs more direct investment from China. For that our prime minister has already created a special economic zone which is dedicated to China so that Chinese investors can directly invest and export to the international market."
Inu said, "We also need Chinese investment in the media sector. Fortunately, China has also grown in the information and communications sector. China agreed to build five independent TV centers at our divisional headquarters and we're also proposing to the Chinese authorities for more support as we're going to digitalize our whole transmission network."
"And we are going to develop our film industry so the infrastructure is needed from the Chinese side to help us modernize," he said.
Beyond that, he continued "We would like to have more exchanges of information, news, documents and cultural activities."
In this regard, the minister said they have already proposed and signed an agreement for the cooperation between the news agency of China and news agency of Bangladesh, as well as both country's film, television and radio networks.
"So this agreement will help us to develop a more close cultural bilateral understanding."
In the education sector, he said China has already extended an open door for Bangladeshi students who are visiting, with the increasing number of students helping to reduce the language barrier.
The minister said, "Because trade is increasing, business is
increasing, so we need to have a young generation who can speak Chinese and Bengali."
The minister sought more Chinese support for the further development of cultural activities, social activities and activities in other areas.