China, B'desh should oppose powers from outside the region forming 'military alliance' in South Asia: Chinese DM

·4-min read

Dhaka, Apr 27 (PTI) China and Bangladesh should make joint efforts against powers from outside the region establishing a 'military alliance' in South Asia and practising 'hegemonism', Chinese Defence Minister Gen. Wei Fenghe said on Tuesday.

Wei made the remarks when he called on Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid here and the two sides agreed to advance the bilateral military cooperation, China's official Xinhua news agency reported from Dhaka.

His comments came in the backdrop of the United States, India, Australia and Japan under the Quad grouping agreed to enhance their cooperation in the strategic Indo-Pacific amid growing Chinese assertiveness in the region.

China has vehemently opposed the formation of the Quad with a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman emphasising that exchanges and cooperation between countries should help expand mutual understanding and trust, instead of targeting or harming the interests of third parties.

His comments after the first virtual Quad summit attended by US President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on March 12.

Wei said during his meeting with President Hamid that China and Bangladesh have been friendly neighbours since ancient time and have a long history of bilateral ties, adding that presently, both countries are at a crucial time in national rejuvenation and development, enjoying a synergy between their development strategies and a broad prospect for cooperation.

'To jointly maintain regional peace and stability, the two sides should make joint efforts against powers outside the region setting up military alliance in South Asia and practicing hegemonism,' Wei, also a State Councilor, emphasised.

He said China is willing to work with Bangladesh to well implement the important consensus reached between their leaders to further develop the bilateral strategic partnership of cooperation.

With their cooperation being extensive, the two militaries should further increase the high-level visits, deepen cooperation in equipment technology, broaden exchanges in specialised fields, and forge closer military relations, he said.

During the meeting, Hamid said Bangladesh and China are time-tested friends and reliable strategic cooperation partners, adding that Dhaka attaches great importance to its relations with China and firmly supports the core interests of China.

The Bangladesh president called on both countries to strengthen coordination in international affairs and be committed to safeguarding regional peace, stability, prosperity and development, the Xinhua report said.

Hamid said he hopes the two militaries will continue to strengthen their practical cooperation in various fields, pushing for greater progress in their relations.

He also expressed gratitude for China's strong support for his country in its development of economy and national defence.

'The Chinese defence minister said Beijing will continue its strategic cooperation in the development of Bangladesh's armed forces as the military cooperation between two countries are gradually increasing,' a Bangabhaban – the presidential palace - spokesman told PTI.

President Hamid welcomed Beijing’s desire to strengthen the bilateral defence ties in the days to come, his press secretary Joynal Abedin said.

According to Abedin, Wei said that Beijing was also keen to enhance cooperation with Dhaka in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic while it was working to resolve the Rohingya crisis.

“China is also working to resolve the Rohingya problem,” the Chinese defence minister said.

According to the presidential palace spokesman, President Hamid reminded the Chinese minister that Bangladesh wanted Beijing to use its good office in persuading Myanmar to take back the forcibly displaced Rohingyas as it maintained a very good relation with Myanmar.

President Hamid described China as one of Bangladesh’s most important development partners.

“Bangladesh-China relations are gradually expanding in various fields including trade and investment,” the president said.

The Chinese investments particularly in infrastructure and communication sectors were playing a very significant role in Bangladesh’s socio-economic development, he said.

Hamid appreciated Beijing’s willingness in strengthening bilateral and multilateral relations in tackling the coronavirus pandemic, saying Bangladesh as well was keen to work together with China on it.

Bangladesh is also eager to take joint initiative in research and production of corona vaccine, he added.

Also on Tuesday, Wei held in-depth talks with Bangladesh Army chief Gen Aziz Ahmed, discussing international and regional situation as well as relations between the two countries and two militaries. PTI AKJ/AR AKJ