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President Xi Jinping due Oct 14
Chinese President Xi Jinping is most likely to make a two-day state visit to Bangladesh from October 14-15 at the invitation of President Abdul Hamid.
President Xi Jinping is scheduled to arrive in the capital from Nepal on October 14 by a special flight, the sources said, adding that the official talks covering the entire gamut of bilateral relations will be held between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the Chinese President on that day. On the following day, Xi Jingping will fly to India to attend the eighth BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) Summit to be held in Goa. PM Sheikh Hasina too is expected to visit Indian state Goa on October 15 and 16.
Dhaka seeks large investment
For Bangladesh, the visit of the Chinese Head of the State to Dhaka after a very long time is deemed extremely significant as it reflects the importance Beijing attaches to Bangladesh-China ties.
Meanwhile, both Dhaka and Beijing are now working on the details of the visit and as part of the preparations. Chinese Ambassador to Dhaka Ma Mingqiang has held a meeting with acting Foreign Secretary Rear Admiral (retd) Khurshed Alam.
However, officials at the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry were yet to officially confirm the date of the much-hyped visit of the Chinese President.
The two sides are expected to hold discussion on Chinese investment in infrastructure development in Bangladesh including the construction of deep seaport at Payra, construction of power plants, highways, special economic zone meant for Chinese companies, mutual cooperation in the maritime sector and construction of a marine aquarium in the Bay of Bengal, the officials said.
During his visit, the Chinese president might also announce a package for Bangladesh involving several billion dollars in the next couple of years, said the source. Dhaka is expected to seek financial support for over two dozen large projects.
A number of agreements worth several billions of dollars are expected to be signed during this visit. Bangladesh is getting ready to sign agreements on several mega projects during the upcoming visit, informed sources said.
Projects on table
The projects include construction of a marine drive expressway and coastal protection from Sitakunda to Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar, conversion of the middle-gauge rail track into a dual-gauge one from Akhaura to Sylhet, pre-payment project for the Bangladesh Power Development Board’s (BPDB) distribution zones, expansion and modernisation of Mongla Port facilities, extension of the existing underground mining operations of Barapukuria coal mine to increase the production capacity, expansion of Dhaka-Sylhet highway to four lanes and establishment of a satellite town on the other side of river Karnaphuli, the sources said.
Some of the projects are likely to be implemented under limited tender or direct procurement method, they added.
Among other issues, matters relating to special economic zones for Chinese investors, China’s participation in the construction of Paira deep seaport as a partner of a consortium and defence issues will be discussed during the visit, the sources said, adding that the Chinese President is likely to inaugurate the construction of a tunnel under the River Karnaphuli in Chittagong.
Meanwhile, Japan, the other prospective partner in the Paira deep sea port has reportedly did not respond to repeated requests from the government on the project since the July JMB-IS attack on Gulshan restaurant in which 18 foreigners including seven Japanese were killed.