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Bangladesh–China relations

Bangladesh-China relations are the bilateral relations of Bangladesh and China. Bangladesh has an embassy in Beijing and consulates in Hong Kong and Kunming. China has an embassy in Dhaka. Both countries are members of the BCIM Forum. Bangladesh and China are also strategic partners.[1]

Sino-Bangladeshi relations
Map indicating locations of China and Bangladesh




Country comparisonEdit

  People's Republic of Bangladesh   People's Republic of China
Area 147,570 km2 9,596,961 km2
Population 162,950,000 1,376,049,000
Population density 1,106/km2 145/km2
Capital Dhaka Beijing
Largest Metropolitan Areas Dhaka Shanghai
Government Parliamentary democracy with Islam as state religion Communist unitary one party state
First leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Mao Zedong
Current leader Sheikh Hasina Xi Jinping
Official languages Bengali Chinese
GDP (nominal) $261 billion $12,015 billion
GDP (nominal) per capita (2017) US$1,602 US$8,643
GDP (PPP) (2017) US$687 billion US$23,159 billion
GDP (PPP) per capita (2017) US$4,207 US$16,624
Human Development Index 0.570 (medium) 0.727 (high)
Foreign exchange reserves 33,100 (millions of USD) 4,009,553 (millions of USD)
Military expenditures US$3.03 billion (1.2% of GDP) US$166.107 billion (2012) (2.0% of GDP)
Manpower Active troops: 157,000 (63,000 reserve personnel) Active troops: approximately 2,285,000 (800,000 reserve personnel)
Main religions Islam (89%), Hinduism (9%), Buddhism (1%), Christianity and others (1%). 10% each: non-religious, folk religions and Taoism, Buddhism. Minorities religions are Islam and Christianity


The treasure voyages went to Sonargaon in Bangladesh
Zhou Enlai (centre) with H. S. Suhrawardy (left) and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (right) in Dhaka Stadium, 1957

Bengal and Imperial ChinaEdit

Chinese monks, scholars and traders began frequenting Bengal from the Qin dynasty period. Famous ancient Chinese travelers to Bengal included Yijing and Xuanzang.[2] During the Pala Empire of Bengal, Atisa of Bikrampur traveled to Tibet and played an important role in developing Tibetan Buddhism.[2] After the Muslim conquest of Bengal in the 13th century, general Bakhtiar Khilji attempted to invade Tibet, which was a protectorate of China.[3] Khilji's army was compelled to retreat due to the harsh conditions of the Himalayas. Ming China and the Bengal Sultanate exchanged many embassies during the 15th century. The Treasure voyages led by the Chinese Muslim admiral Zheng He visited the Bengal Sultanate several times. China also mediated in disputes between Bengal and Jaunpur.[2]

Experts have also speculated on the possibility of a southwestern Silk Road connecting Bengal and China.[4]

East PakistanEdit

Chinese premier Zhou Enlai visited East Pakistan several times in the 1950s and 60s. The Chinese Communist Party maintained close ties with Bengali nationalist leaders Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani and Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy. Bhashani in particular, was considered close to Mao Zedong. While serving as the Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1957, Awami League president H. S. Suhrawardy became the first Pakistani leader to make a state visit to the PRC.

Modern relationsEdit

Mao Zedong and U.S. President Richard Nixon found Bangladesh's liberation war an irritant during their rapprochement. China blocked Bangladesh's entry to the United Nations until 1974

When the Bangladesh War of Independence broke out in 1971, complex geopolitical rivalries erupted in South Asia. The Bangladeshis elicited the help of India in their freedom struggle. China had earlier fought a war with India in 1962 and became an ally of Pakistan. Crucially, it was using Pakistan as a conduit for rapprochement with Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger in the United States. The PRC also replaced Taiwan (Republic of China) as a permanent member of UN Security Council in 1971. Its first veto was used to support Pakistan during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. In the early years of Bangladesh's independence, Dhaka was also close to the Soviet Union, which was a rival of China following the Sino-Soviet split. Despite the support of most countries in the world, Bangladesh's UN membership was vetoed by China until 1974. The situation dramatically changed after military coups in Bangladesh began in 1975, causing Bangladesh to distance itself from the Indo-Soviet Cold War axis in South Asia. China and Bangladesh established diplomatic relations in January 1976.[5] The period coincided with the recognition of the PRC as the sole legitimate government of China by most of the world. The period also saw the Chinese begin to embrace capitalism. President Ziaur Rahman, who restored free markets in Bangladesh, visited Beijing and the laid the groundwork for the relationship; while numerous Chinese leaders visited Dhaka in the late 1970s.

Ziaur Rahman was a key architect of modern Bangladesh-China relations

By the mid-1980s, China had forged close military, commercial and cultural ties with Bangladesh and also supplied it with military aid and equipment.[5] The then-president of Bangladesh Hossain Mohammad Ershad was warmly received in Beijing in July 1987. A Bangladesh-China friendship bridge was constructed and inaugurated over river Buriganga connecting Dhaka and Munshiganj by the Chinese as a token of this newly advancing diplomatic and military relationship. On 4 October 2000, the Government of Bangladesh issued a postal stamp marking the 25th anniversary of the establishment of Bangladesh-China diplomatic relations. By this time, China had provided economic assistance totaling US$300 million to Bangladesh and the bilateral trade had reached a value mounting to a billion dollars.[6] In 2002, the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made an official visit to Bangladesh and both countries declared 2005 as the "Bangladesh-China Friendship Year."[7]

The two countries signed nine different bi-lateral agreements to increase there mutual relationship.[8]

On Bangladesh Nationalist Party PM Begum Khaleda Zia's invitation China was added as an observer in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).[9] After Cyclone Sidr hit Bangladesh in 2007, China donated US$1 million for relief and reconstruction in cyclone-hit areas.[10]


The Chinese embassy in Bangladesh has twice intervened during local art shows to censor coverage of the plight of Tibetan refugees in South Asia. In 2009, police cancelled a planned photo exhibit on Tibetan exiles at the Drik gallery in Dhaka, after requests from the Chinese embassy.[11] In 2016, the Chinese ambassador protested against Tibetan exhibits at the Dhaka Art Summit, which led the organizers to censor coverage of Tibet.[12]

Economic relationsEdit

The Bangabandhu International Conference Center in Dhaka was built with Chinese assistance
This bridge in Chittagong is one of many funded by Chinese development assistance in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is third largest trade partner of China in South Asia. But, the bilateral trade between them is highly tilted in favour of Beijing.[13] Bilateral trade reached as high as US$3.19 billion in 2006, reflecting a growth of 28.5% between 2005 and 2006. China has bolstered its economic aid to Bangladesh to address concerns of trade imbalance; in 2006, Bangladesh's exports to China amounted only about USD 98.8 million.[14] Under the auspices of the Asia-Pacific Free Trade Agreement (AFTA), China removed tariff barriers to 84 types of commodities imported from Bangladesh and is working to reduce tariffs over the trade of jute and textiles, which are Bangladesh's chief domestic products.[14] China has also offered to construct nuclear power plants in Bangladesh to help meet the country's growing energy needs, while also seeking to aid the development of Bangladesh's natural gas resources.[15][16] China's mainly imports raw materials from Bangladesh like leather, cotton textiles, fish, etc. China's major exports to Bangladesh include textiles, machinery and electronic products, cement, fertiliser, tyre, raw silk, maize, etc.[17]

In 2005, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao visited Bangladesh on an official visit on 7 and 8 April. Various agreements were signed during this visit. On transportation side, China and Bangladesh have agreed to start a direct air transport route between Dhaka and Beijing via Kunming. Also Kunming-Chittagong road link through Myanmar is also considered.[13] The Chinese premier readily agreed to constructing the Di-Aluminium Phosphate (DAP) fertiliser factory in Chittagong entirely on concessional lending instead of on supplier's credit.[18] In 2007, Chinese Assistant Minister of Commerce, Wang Chao visited Bangladesh with the 39-member purchase delegation. It is the biggest purchase delegation ever to Bangladesh with over 10 companies listed in China's top 500 and some of them in world's top 500. Delegation is reported to have purchased Bangladeshi goods worth over USD $50 million.[19] Both countries accepted to build a "Bangladesh-China Friendship Exhibition Center" in Dhaka.[19]

Defense cooperationEdit

The Bangladesh Army has been equipped with Chinese tanks, its navy has Chinese frigates and missile boats and the Bangladesh Air Force flies Chinese fighter jets. In 2002, China and Bangladesh signed a "Defence Cooperation Agreement" which covers military training and defence production.[citation needed] In 2006, a Chinese report to the United Nations revealed that Dhaka is emerging as a major buyer of Chinese-made weapons. China sold 65 large calibre artillery systems, 16 combat aircraft and 114 missile and related equipment to Bangladesh in 2006. Bangladesh also bought roughly 200 small arms and regular artillery pieces from China.[20]

In 2008, Bangladesh set up an anti-ship missile launch pad near the Chittagong Port with assistance from China. The maiden missile test was performed on 12 May 2008 with active participation of Chinese experts. It successfully test-fired anti-ship missile C-802A with a strike range of 120 km from the frigate BNS Osman near Kutubdia Island in the Bay of Bengal. BNS Osman which was commissioned in 1989, is a 1500-ton Chinese built Jianghu class Frigate, and the C-802A missile is a modified version of Chinese Ying Ji-802 with weight reduced from 815 kg to 715 kg to increase the strike range from 42 km to 120 km.

Bangladesh's regional neighbors Myanmar, Thailand, Pakistan and Sri Lanka also depend on Chinese military supplies; as do other Muslim-majority countries of similar size, including Egypt, Nigeria and Sudan.

Regional river sharingEdit

Bangladesh and India have signaled concerns over Chinese plans to dam and divert water from the Brahmaputra River in Tibet.[21]

See alsoEdit


  • Cardenal, Juan Pablo; Araújo, Heriberto (2011). La silenciosa conquista china (in Spanish). Barcelona: Crítica. p. 257. ISBN 9788498922578.


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China
  3. ^ Farooqui Salma Ahmed (2011). A Comprehensive History of Medieval India: Twelfth to the Mid-Eighteenth Century. Pearson Education India. pp. 53–. ISBN 978-81-317-3202-1.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b Bangladesh – China and Other Asian Nations
  6. ^ "Dhaka Issues Memorial Stamps on Bangladesh-China Diplomatic Relationship". People's Daily. 4 October 2000. Retrieved 15 September 2008.
  7. ^ "Bangladesh-China" Friendship Year
  8. ^ Habib, Haroon (9 April 2005). "Bangladesh, China sign nine agreements". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 24 September 2008. Retrieved 15 September 2008.
  9. ^ "China pledges to further promote China-Bangladesh ties". Xinhua News Agency. 7 June 2006. Retrieved 15 September 2008.
  10. ^ "China donates US$1 mln to Bangladesh". CCTV. 21 November 2007. Retrieved 15 September 2008.
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b Kumar, Anand (21 April 2005). "Changing Dynamics of Sino-Bangladesh Relations". southasiaanalysis group. Archived from the original on 13 June 2010. Retrieved 15 September 2008.
  14. ^ a b China grants over USD 10 million aid to Bangladesh
  15. ^ China's March on South Asia Archived 16 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ China keen to build Rooppur nuclear plant
  17. ^ "China and Bangladesh". The Department of Asian Affairs, People's Republic of China. 25 August 2003. Retrieved 18 January 2010.
  18. ^ Mohammad Mahabubur Rahman, Dr. Kazi Ihtesham (23 May 2005). "Sino-Bangla relations and Bangladesh's Look East policy". The Daily Star. Retrieved 15 September 2008.
  19. ^ a b "China, Bangladesh to improve bilateral ties". The Hindu. Xinhua. 24 July 2007. Archived from the original on 3 November 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2008.
  20. ^ Samanta, Pranab Dhal (9 September 2007). "Breaking 10-year silence, China reveals it's now No 1 arms supplier to Bangladesh". The Indian Express. Retrieved 15 September 2008.
  21. ^ Bagchi, Indrani (12 June 2007). "Water-sharing clouds Indo-China ties". The Times of India. Retrieved 15 September 2008.

Further readingEdit

  • Church, Sally K. (2004). "The Giraffe of Bengal: A Medieval Encounter in Ming China". The Medieval History Journal. 7 (1): 1–37. doi:10.1177/097194580400700101.