China also wants to include Bangladesh in President Xi Jinping’s Global Development Initiative (GDI). The country wants to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bangladesh soon for inclusion in the GDI, prioritizing eight areas including health, climate change and disaster management, development of communication infrastructure for connectivity, and digital economy.
The issue of inclusion in GDI will be important in the discussion of the meeting of foreign secretaries of Bangladesh and China to be held in Dhaka today. Diplomatic sources have confirmed this. China’s Vice Minister Sun Weidong arrived in Dhaka last Friday night to attend the Foreign Secretary-level meeting of the two countries. This morning, the foreign secretary level meeting of the two countries will begin at Padma State Guest House. Foreign Secretary Masood Bin Momen will lead Bangladesh.
Note that six and a half years before Bangladesh joined another global initiative (Belt and Road Initiative or BRI), Bangladesh signed a memorandum of understanding. After BRI, China has brought forward GDI since 2021. BRI is basically a massive connectivity initiative through development of communication infrastructure. And GDI is basically a development cooperation initiative around health, education and digital economy.
According to diplomatic sources, Beijing sent a draft memorandum of understanding to Bangladesh earlier this year to include Bangladesh in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Global Development Initiative or GDI. The senior officials of various ministries of the government held an inter-ministerial meeting in Dhaka on the draft of the agreement titled ‘Strengthening development cooperation and developing the implementation of global development initiatives’.
Regarding the discussion of the inter-ministerial meeting, multiple sources of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs say that there is an opinion in favor of signing an agreement with China on GDI. In particular, the economic crisis around the world surrounding the spread of the coronavirus and the Russia-Ukraine war has led to China’s proposed signing of the memorandum of understanding. However, the meeting also agreed that there is a need for a better assessment of how much Bangladesh will benefit as a whole if it joins such a global initiative, taking into account only development.
During his visit to Dhaka in August last year, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi formally requested Bangladesh to join the GDI. Then Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told reporters that China’s request will be considered.
A couple of weeks after Wang Yi’s request, Beijing sent a diplomatic letter to Bangladesh in this regard. The letter mentions the steps China has taken so far with partners to implement the GDI. Mainly the initiatives taken by China in the fields of health, food and energy security, information and communication technology development, skill development, green economy and forestry were informed to Bangladesh.
Later, China was informed by Bangladesh that it should be informed what exactly Beijing wants to do with Bangladesh. Following this, China sent the draft GDI agreement to Bangladesh.