A treasure trove, not a ‘debt trap’

China-Bangladesh economic and trade cooperation has many touching stories, exemplary projects, and remarkable achievements to be explored.

The Op-Ed published in Dhaka Tribune on April 27, titled “Strings firmly attached: Can Bangladesh avoid falling into the Chinese debt trap?” is factually incorrect in many respects and has misled public opinion.

In fact, the leadership of Bangladesh has already reached a conclusion on the so-called “Chinese debt trap.” Hon'ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Hon'ble Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen have refuted this fallacy, saying that China is a friendly country and development partner of Bangladesh - and that the so-called “Chinese debt trap” will never happen.

China has always respected Bangladesh's sovereignty in bilateral economic and trade cooperation and has never attached any political conditions to its loans. 

The loan amounts and terms of agreements have been agreed with Bangladesh in advance and framework agreements have been signed. 

The ratio of Chinese loans to Bangladesh's foreign debt is relatively low, and Bangladesh's existing financial capacity can fully afford it.

The Chinese loans focus on supporting the development of Bangladesh's infrastructure and supporting industries, such as the Dasherkandi STP Project, the Info-Sarker-Phase-3 Project, and the Multi Lanes Tunnel under Karnaphuli River project, which have brought tangible benefits to the government and people of Bangladesh. 

The friendship between the people of Bangladesh and China has also been deepened through the promotion of these mega projects.

The above-mentioned Op-Ed is grossly inconsistent with the deep friendship and extensive cooperation between China and Bangladesh.

The Rajshahi Surface Water Treatment Plant project is a long-awaited project for hundreds of thousands of people in Rajshahi, which will provide them with safe drinking water. 

The project will also boost the local economy and improve employment. 

After years of hard work, the project has finally reached the point where the loan agreement will be signed and construction will commence, a hard-won achievement that both China and Bangladesh cherish.

The mentioned Op-Ed does not match the expectations and feelings of the Rajshahi citizens on the project.

That said, we firmly reject the “Chinese debt trap” hypocrisy, and reiterate that the China-Bangladesh economic and trade cooperation is a "treasure trove" with many touching stories, exemplary projects and remarkable achievements to be explored. 

Song Yang is Economic and Commercial Counsellor of the Embassy of China in Bangladesh.