Connect with us

Opinion

PM’s China Trip: Fostering a New Era in Bangladesh-China Cultural Exchanges

Published

on

PM's China Trip: Fostering a New Era in Bangladesh-China Cultural Exchanges

The enduring cultural exchanges between China and Bangladesh, spanning over two millennia, highlight the importance of such interactions in fostering lasting international friendships. The “Belt and Road” initiative and the “Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor” have further solidified this bond. However, it’s vital to recognize that these exchanges transcend mere economics; cultural exchanges are equally, if not more, influential in driving economic interactions.

Cultural diplomacy hinges on the exchange of ideas, values, traditions, and cultural identities to strengthen relationships, enhance socio-cultural cooperation, and promote national interests. Unlike government-driven initiatives, cultural relations grow naturally through trade, tourism, student exchanges, communication, book circulation, migration, media, intermarriage, and countless daily cross-cultural encounters. Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasized the importance of promoting a cultural spirit that transcends time, space, and national boundaries.

Bangladesh and China share a deeply rooted historical relationship, which has only strengthened since Bangladesh’s independence in 1971. Diplomatic relations officially began in 1975, and since then, persistent efforts from both nations have brought them closer. China has become Bangladesh’s most trusted friend, and both countries now enjoy a thriving economic partnership. They are committed to further enhancing economic ties, focusing on bilateral trade, investment, joint ventures, connectivity projects, and cultural exchanges. This commitment has been reflected in several joint statements over the years, including in 2005, 2010, 2014, and 2016.

The first high-level visit from China occurred in 1978 when Vice Premier Li Xiannian visited Bangladesh to strengthen bilateral relations. Subsequent visits by leaders and prime ministers from both countries have fostered a robust relationship. Numerous political and diplomatic visits, friendly exchanges between administrative agencies, parliamentary bodies, political leaders, cultural groups, businesses, and NGOs have further cemented these ties.

Both nations have signed various bilateral treaties and Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) in socio-economic and cultural fields, fostering social and cultural exchanges such as language programs, academic scholarships, cultural trips, sports events, and friendship visits. Additionally, people-to-people connections through business tours, tourism, and media affiliations, as well as religious and philosophical exchanges, have flourished and continue to thrive.

In April 2005, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited Bangladesh, marking the establishment of a comprehensive cooperative partnership characterized by long-term friendship, equality, and mutual benefit. The year 2005 was declared the “Year of China-Bangladesh Friendship” to celebrate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations.

Bangladesh holds a deep respect and appreciation for Chinese culture, valuing traditional elements like Confucianism, Chinese medicine, sports, cuisine, and classical literature. With China’s rapid modernization, there is also significant interest in its modern culture, including scientific and technological advancements and contemporary art. Bangladeshis hope to further strengthen cultural exchanges with China to enhance mutual understanding and promote common development.

Cultural exchanges play a crucial role in eliminating misunderstandings and fostering friendly bilateral relations. In response to China’s Global Civilization Initiative, these exchanges can significantly enhance mutual appreciation and cooperation between China and Bangladesh.

On March 15, 2023, General Secretary Xi Jinping unveiled the Global Civilization Initiative at the High-level Dialogue between the Communist Party of China and World Political Parties. This initiative emphasizes the importance of respecting the diversity of world civilizations, fostering shared values across humanity, prioritizing the inheritance and innovation of cultural legacies, and enhancing international cultural exchanges and cooperation. Following the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative, the Global Civilization Initiative represents another significant contribution from China to address global challenges in the new era.

Since its introduction, the Global Civilization Initiative has gained substantial traction. Its principles have been further refined, practical measures have deepened, and the enthusiasm for participation from various global parties has surged. The international community has responded positively, recognizing the initiative’s essential role in promoting the inclusive coexistence of different civilizations, facilitating exchanges and mutual learning, advancing the modernization of human society, and enriching the world’s cultural landscape.

Bangladesh-China Relations: A Historical Perspective

The relationship between Bangladesh and China has a rich history marked by significant diplomatic visits and agreements. In September 1996, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made her first foreign visit to China after assuming office. This visit laid the foundation for stronger bilateral ties. Subsequent visits in March 2010 and June 2014 saw both nations committing to a “closer comprehensive cooperation partnership.” During these visits, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Chinese leaders, including Premier Li Keqiang, explored avenues for enhanced cooperation.

In September 2015, a meeting between President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in New York reinforced the notion that China and Bangladesh are good neighbors, friends, and partners. President Xi’s historic visit to Bangladesh in October 2016 further solidified this relationship, resulting in the signing of 27 cooperation agreements across various sectors. In July 2019, discussions in Beijing between the two leaders encompassed trade, investment, infrastructure, the digital economy, climate change, anti-terrorism, the Belt and Road Initiative, and the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIM-EC).

Strengthening Bilateral Ties Through Continued Engagement

In August 2022, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met with Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Dhaka, followed by another significant meeting with President Xi Jinping in August 2023 on the sidelines of the 15th BRICS Summit in India. These discussions highlighted the importance of regional peace and stability, increased trade and investment, and loan issues, underscoring the depth and breadth of Bangladesh-China relations.

These ongoing efforts have paved the way for a promising future in Bangladesh-China relations, marked by enhanced assistance, trade, investment, cultural cooperation, and mutual benefits. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to China has opened a new chapter in cultural exchanges between the two nations. This visit symbolizes not only a deepening of political and economic cooperation but also the strengthening of people-to-people connections, which are crucial for fostering mutual understanding, trust, and friendship.

China and Bangladesh, both with rich historical and cultural heritages, stand to gain immensely from these exchanges. This visit offers an excellent opportunity for both countries to learn from each other, further cementing their ties and contributing to a more interconnected and harmonious global community.

PM's China Trip: Fostering a New Era in Bangladesh-China Cultural Exchanges

In the realm of education, an upsurge in student exchange programs between China and Bangladesh is on the horizon. China’s prestigious higher education system is globally acclaimed, and Bangladeshi students are anticipated to receive more scholarships to study in China, immersing themselves in cutting-edge knowledge and technological advancements. Concurrently, Chinese students will have enhanced opportunities to explore Bangladesh’s distinctive education system and cultural heritage. Recent years have seen a notable strengthening of partnerships between universities in both countries, with a rising number of joint training initiatives invigorating the talent development landscape.

Cultural exchanges are set to flourish further, particularly in art, literature, and music. The unique artistic expressions of Bangladesh, including its traditional dance, music, and literary works, are poised to gain greater exposure in China, captivating Chinese audiences with their distinctive allure. Likewise, Chinese cultural traditions such as Peking Opera, calligraphy, and martial arts are expected to find a welcoming audience in Bangladesh, enriching the cultural fabric of the nation. Events like the previously held “China-Bangladesh Cultural Festival,” which saw enthusiastic participation from both countries, underscore the potential for cultural integration and mutual appreciation.

Tourism stands as another pivotal component of this burgeoning relationship. Bangladesh, with its stunning natural landscapes and rich historical sites, is set to attract more Chinese tourists, boosting local tourism. Conversely, China’s expansive territory and diverse tourist attractions are drawing interest from Bangladeshi travelers. By enhancing tourism promotion, simplifying visa processes, and other collaborative measures, both nations can facilitate greater people-to-people exchanges. Additionally, sports exchanges offer a valuable platform for fostering goodwill. Traditional and emerging sports activities, including friendly matches and sports training programs, can strengthen the bonds of friendship between the two populations.

The recent visit of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to China heralds a new chapter in cultural exchanges between the two nations. This visit is poised to forge enduring connections, nurture mutual respect, and foster a shared appreciation for cultural diversity. With concerted efforts from both sides, this burgeoning chapter promises to bring substantial benefits to the people of both countries and lay a robust foundation for the sustained development of bilateral relations.

 

Mohammad Saiyedul Islam

Doctoral Candidate in the School of International Trade and Economics at the Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics.

Senior Research Fellow at Daffodil International University Belt and Road Research Centre, Bangladesh

Share this

Opinion

Uncertain Futures: Stricter Immigration Laws Leave Skilled Migrants in Limbo

Published

on

immigration migrants

Immigration laws have long been a delicate balancing act, weighing national interests against the aspirations of individuals seeking better opportunities. This equilibrium has tipped erratically in recent years, particularly in Western and European nations, transforming hopeful journeys into arduous trials. For many, like Sadman Mushfiq from Bangladesh, these shifting policies have turned a path to opportunity into a maze of frustration and uncertainty.

Since 2020, many countries have tightened their immigration policies, complicating relocation for skilled workers and students. Canada, once a beacon for immigrants with its Express Entry system, has seen its CRS score cut-offs fluctuate wildly, leaving many potential migrants in limbo. This unpredictability makes planning akin to aiming at a moving target.

In the United States, a series of executive orders and policy shifts have heightened insecurity for prospective immigrants. Visa suspensions, increased vetting, and stricter H-1B visa requirements have added to the anxiety. Germany’s Skilled Workers Immigration Act initially offered hope, but its implementation has been bogged down by bureaucratic hurdles and lengthy processing times, discouraging many. Similarly, Australia and New Zealand have raised the bar with their points-based systems, making it harder for candidates to qualify.

Sadman, a qualified professional, finds himself entangled in these evolving policies. Despite his efforts to learn new languages and pursue higher education, shifting goalposts have left him in a state of uncertainty. His story is echoed by Lima Khan, who dreams of migrating to Canada to support her family. “Since my father’s passing, I’ve become the breadwinner. The labor market in Bangladesh is unfavorable, and I wish to work abroad to provide a better income. Despite completing a master’s degree, I feel hopeless as the requirements keep changing,” she laments.

The irony is palpable: these countries initially welcomed young, skilled migrants to counter aging populations and boost their economies. The influx of talent was beneficial for host countries and a beacon of hope for many. However, abrupt policy shifts have led to questions about the fairness and logic behind these changes, potentially depriving nations of valuable contributions from eager migrants.

This situation raises a critical question: Should countries have the authority to alter immigration inflows at will? While it is understandable that nations must periodically revise policies to meet economic and other needs, the human cost of such changes cannot be ignored. Promises made to prospective immigrants, who invest time, money, and effort to meet requirements, should not be casually broken.

In conclusion, while immigration policies must adapt to changing circumstances, they should also remain consistent and transparent to ensure fairness. The dreams and aspirations of millions should not be held hostage to unpredictable policy shifts. As we navigate the complex terrain of immigration laws, a balance must be struck between national interests and the genuine hopes of people like Sadman Mushfiq and Lima Khan, who seek nothing more than a fair chance at a better life.

 

Tazeen Nuwari Anwar

LLB, LLM and Barrister of England and Wales

Share this
Continue Reading

Opinion

Aggressive Policy Rate Hikes Needed for Effective Inflation Control

Published

on

Ahsan H Mansur

The Bangladesh Bank is set to implement the crawling peg system for exchange rates, a move widely considered positive when adjusted to the real effective exchange rate. While this method is viewed favorably, there are suggestions that a more aggressive approach to raising policy rates, possibly by 100 basis points instead of the proposed 25, could better address inflation concerns.

Gradual Repo Rate Increases Questioned: Advocacy for Monthly Adjustments

Critics argue that the gradual increase in the repo rate may not effectively control inflation. Proposals for a more structured approach, involving a consistent monthly increment in the policy rate, are suggested as a potential solution to bring various economic factors under control.

Inflation Target of 7.5% Raises Questions Amidst Partner Discrepancy

The central bank aims to bring down inflation to 7.5% in the current fiscal year, with further initiatives to achieve a 6% target. However, concerns arise as credit partners recommend inflation rates between 2-4%, indicating potential inconsistencies in the proposed targets.

SMART Rate Introduction for Consumer Loans Faces Implementation Challenges

Despite the introduction of the SMART rate for consumer loans, calculated based on the six-month average rate of Treasury bills and bonds, its effectiveness in banks is questioned. The current SMART rate hovers around 12%, with concerns about the inconsistent implementation of the 10% loan interest rate.

Dollar Crisis and Banking Sector Reforms Raise Concerns

Concerns are raised over the lack of substantial steps to address the ongoing dollar crisis. Advocates suggest that a significant increase in the dollar rate could attract more inflow and improve the financial account. The banking sector also faces challenges, with a notable absence of effective reforms, leading to capital shortfalls in fifteen banks and a surge in defaulted loans. Implementation of policies is emphasized as crucial for addressing these issues.

 

Ahsan H. Mansur

Economist and Director of Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh

Share this
Continue Reading

Opinion

A B C for Freshers to Prepare for the Job Market

Published

on

Hasan Taiab Imam

In the dynamic landscape of the job market, the journey from academia to employment may seem daunting for fresh graduates. However, adopting a positive mindset reminiscent of conquering academic milestones can pave the way for success. Amid the ever-evolving job market, staying proactive and well-prepared is paramount to gaining a competitive edge and ensuring a flourishing career.

Crafting an impactful Curriculum Vitae (CV) serves as the first step toward leaving a lasting impression on potential employers. A well-organized CV should showcase academic achievements, relevant coursework, projects, internships, and extracurricular activities. Tailoring the CV for each job application enhances the focus on skills pertinent to the specific role.

Establishing a robust online presence is crucial in the digital age. Creating or updating a LinkedIn profile allows graduates to showcase projects, achievements, and a detailed CV. Networking becomes a powerful tool for career advancement—attending career fairs, industry conferences, and participating in online discussions within relevant LinkedIn and Facebook groups expand professional connections.

Hasan Taiab Imam

Internships and part-time jobs offer invaluable practical experience aligned with one’s field of study. Actively seeking insights through industry visits enhances understanding. Identifying in-demand skills within your industry and participating in online learning platforms and career development workshops accelerates skill development.

Researching prospective employers is pivotal. Understanding company values, culture, and specific role requirements enables applicants to tailor their approach. To prepare for the interview phase, practicing common questions and participating in mock interviews provide valuable experience and feedback.

Staying abreast of industry trends, news, and developments is essential for a holistic understanding of the job market. Leveraging career services offered by universities, including assistance with CV writing, mock interviews, and job search strategies, further refines one’s readiness.

Setting realistic expectations is crucial in the competitive job market. Securing the first job may require time, and graduates are advised to remain patient and open to diverse opportunities aligned with their career goals.

With a proactive approach, graduates can navigate challenges and embark on a successful career journey.

Hasan Taiab Imam

Head of Group HR, Bengal Group of Industries

Share this
Continue Reading