See More on Facebook

Diplomacy, Economics

Belt and Road Initiative and what’s in it for Bangladesh

As one of the key countries in China’s infrastructure program, what lays in store for Bangladesh.

Written by

Updated: May 30, 2019

The second Belt and Road Forum (BRF) was recently held in Beijing. This is the second time the forum took stock and set the pathways for future endeavours of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) since this major initiative was launched in 2013.

In his address to the forum, President Xi Jinping also set new guidelines for the BRI to proceed in the coming years. He laid a lot of emphasis on the progress of BRI for the common good of humanity. In his words: “The flow of goods, capital, technology and people can provide strong impetus and broad space for economic growth. As the Chinese saying goes, ‘The ceaseless flow of rivers makes the oceans deep.’ However, were such inflow to be cut, the ocean, however big, would eventually dry up.”

In his speech, the Chinese president also touched upon some areas where BRI has to take special care and note. Specifically, all BRI projects in the future will have to adhere to strict international standards in quality. Projects will also have to be clean and green. There would be zero tolerance for any misappropriation or corruption in BRI projects. Special care has to be taken so that all project planning meets the environmental standards and no damage is done in the construction process to the environment.

Issues of the so-called “debt trap” also came up for discussion. It was pointed out that both lending and borrowing countries have to be more responsible for debt management and borrowing should only be done with capacity of repayment in mind. The five key areas of focus of BRI were also emphasised upon during the forum: policy coordination, connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people contact. It was pointed out that for the successful implementation of BRI, all these five areas of focus must receive the highest attention.

A number of sideline events also took place during the forum touching upon specific aspects of the initiative: there was a CEOs’ forum on joint investment and business opportunities; a Belt and Road News Network meeting; a Belt and Road Studies Network meeting comprising of major think tanks in BRI countries, to name a few. A number of new initiatives were also launched to support the BRI—notable amongst them are the Beijing Initiative for Clean Silk Road, Belt and Road Energy Partnership, Belt and Road Initiative Tax Administration Cooperation Mechanism. The International Silk Road Academy of Science was also launched along with the Alliance of International Science Organizations in the Belt and Road Region. The Belt and Road News Network will be a platform for cooperation amongst major news outlets and media houses in BRI countries. Similarly, the newly launched Belt and Road Studies Network will be a platform to bring together major think tanks in BRI countries to carry out research studies on different aspects of the initiative and provide policy inputs.

Bangladesh is a signatory country of BRI. It is also a key strategic partner of the initiative. Of the six economic corridors upon which the concept of BRI is built, one corridor will pass through Bangladesh. The old Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) corridor is now to become the BRI corridor linking Kunming to Kolkata. There are only two corridors of the six corridors which are identified as maritime corridors and the old BCIM corridor is one of them. It will start at Kunming in China, pass through Myanmar and Bangladesh, and end up in Kolkata, India. Recently, a bilateral contract has been signed between China and Myanmar known as China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC).

Bangladesh is going to start implementing other BRI projects very shortly. During the visit of President Xi Jinping in Bangladesh in 2016, a USD 40 billion package was pledged and necessary MOUs signed, of which USD 26 billion is meant for infrastructural development under BRI. Bangladesh stands to benefit enormously when these projects are completed; we will be linked by land through the corridor to the Chinese mainland which will then lead to connectivity through the other corridors to the rest of the world.

However, managing such massive infrastructural investment and development is not always easy. We will need to develop our policy and management capacities to reap the benefits of this initiative. In identifying the projects, we must give priority to our national needs and objectives. Being a climate-change-affected country, we will have to be extra cautious and sensitive in maintaining the highest environmental standards in all these projects. The so-called debt trap should also warn us that we have to be responsible and cautious in taking debts and managing them well. Transparency and accountability should be maintained in the planning and execution of these large projects. Project completion maintaining the highest degree of quality and international standards is of utmost importance. Going by our past record and experience, this is quite a tall order but given the size and importance of the projects, we cannot afford to compromise on any account.

BRI is a comprehensive undertaking that can transform our development endeavours and also support us in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. We will need to have a coordinated policy approach in three policy domains: trade, finance and investment (TFI). Only then can we better streamline the efforts to a win-win outcome.

Any mega project of this scale will also have geopolitical and geostrategic implications. We must therefore also carefully analyse these aspects as we move towards implementation of BRI.

In his speech at the forum, President Xi Jinping said: “Joint development of the Belt and Road Initiative embraces the historical trend of economic globalisations, responds to the call for global governance system reform and conforms to the strong desire of people of all countries to live better lives.”

Indeed, development and improving people’s lives should be our goal.

Major General ANM Muniruzzaman ndc, psc (retd) is the president of Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS), an independent think tank.

Enjoyed this story? Share it.

Daily Star
About the Author: The Daily Star is a leading English-language daily newspaper in Bangladesh.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia

Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.

By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Diplomacy, Economics

Gota wins Sri Lanka elections, extends olive branch to all

The race was called Sunday with the former defence chief winning. President elect, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, yesterday pledged to fully assist the Election Commission in holding elections. He made this statement at the Elections Secretariat, where the official results of Saturday’s presidential election were declared. Rajapaksa is to be sworn in at Ruwanweliseya, Anuradhapura today. He is to visit the Sri Maha Bodhi as well. Rajapaksa obtained 6,924,255 votes (52.25%) while Sajith Premadasa obtained 5,564,239 (41.99%.) Rajapaksa secured a victory margin of over 1.3 million votes. Jathika Jana Balawegaya candidate, Anura Kumara Dissanayake obtained 418,553 (3.16%) votes, not enough to save his deposit. Gotabaya also emerged victorious in Kalutara, Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Moneragala, Ratnapura, Badulla, Kurunegala, Puttalam, Gampaha, Kandy, Matale, Polonnaruwa Colombo, Kegalle and Anuradhapura distr

By The Island
November 18, 2019

Diplomacy, Economics

US-Thai defence treaty looks to cement alliance in 21st century

Thailand is the US’ oldest treaty ally in Southeast Asia. Thailand and the United States have signed a defence treaty to enable stability, prosperity and sustainability in the Indo-Pacific region “in support of an inclusive and rules-based international order”. The US-Thailand Joint Vision Statement 2020 advances the 2018 US National Defence Strategy and Thailand’s 20-Year National Strategy objectives “by reaffirming our shared commitment to the long-standing defence alliance”, according to a statement issued by the US embassy in Bangkok on Sunday. “It strengthens the special relationship with a focus on the long-term advancement of mutual interests and shared values while also promoting security cooperation capable of deterring or acting decisively to meet the shared challenges of the future”, the statement added. Academics said the move reaffirmed US policy o

By The Nation (Thailand)
November 18, 2019

Diplomacy, Economics

Coming challenges call for stronger Korea-ASEAN ties

President Moon Jae-in contributed this article to The Korea Herald and Asia News Network member newspapers on the occasion of the 2019 ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit.  Next week, November 25-27, the 2019 ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit and the 1st Mekong-Republic of Korea Summit will be held in Korea. In particular, since my hometown Busan will play host to the events, I am very much looking forward to them – as if I have invited valued guests to my home. I send early greetings in a warm welcome to the heads of state and government as well as to the Secretary-General of ASEAN. The Republic of Korea was ASEAN’s first dialogue partner to establish an ASEAN Culture House. Koreans love ASEAN so much that the National ASEAN Recreation Forest was created complete with cabins modeled after the various traditional housing styles of the 10 ASEAN member states. After I took offic

By Asia News Network
November 18, 2019

Diplomacy, Economics

N. Korea says it sent ultimatum to S. Korea over Mount Kumgang project

Mount Kumgang is a joint economic venture. North Korea sent an ultimatum to South Korea earlier this week that it will unilaterally remove the South-built facilities from its Mount Kumgang resort unless Seoul tears them down on its own, Pyongyang’s official news agency reported Friday. The North’s tough stance suggests little room for inter-Korean negotiations that South Korea has sought in an effort to keep the long-suspended tour project that was considered one of the most tangible symbols of inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (Yonhap) “We sent an ultimatum on Nov. 11 that i

By The Korea Herald
November 15, 2019

Diplomacy, Economics

Let Kashmir breathe

It is the 100 day anniversary of India’s moves in Kashmir. IT is a grim milestone. Tuesday marked the 100th day of the siege of India-held Kashmir, after New Delhi clamped down on the region and did away with its special status guaranteed by the Indian constitution. Read: Occupied Kashmir marks 100 days of annexation Since then, life has become a nightmare for the Kashmiris, as they have been living under constant lockdown, their routines disrupted by the heavy hand of the Indian establishment. The matter was raised during a Senate session in Islamabad on Tuesday, with lawmakers questioning the UN’s relative silence where the suffering of Kashmiris is concerned. Former Senate chairman Farooq Naek urged the government to approach the International Court of Justice over the matter, while

By Dawn
November 15, 2019

Diplomacy, Economics

China, India doing ‘absolutely nothing’ to clean up

Garbage they drop in sea floats into Los Angeles: Donald Trump. US President Donald Trump at the Economic Club of New York on Tuesday, has said countries like China, India and Russia are doing “absolutely nothing” to clean up their smokestacks and industrial plants and the garbage that they drop in sea floats into Los Angeles. Trump also claimed that he considers himself to be, “in many ways, an environmentalist, believe it or not”. US president said that climate change is a “very complex issue.” “So…I’m very much into climate. But I want the cleanest air on the planet and I want to have – I have to have clean air – water,” Mr Trump said in remarks at the Economic Club of New York. Trump while addressing the audience said that the US withdrew from the “one-sided, horrible, horrible, economically unfair, ”close your businesses down within three

By The Statesman
November 14, 2019