Dhaka: Bangladesh and China today upgraded their ties to a strategic partnership as they signed 27 agreements, including loan and investment deals in the infrastructure sector worth billions, after Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
"We agreed to elevate China-Bangladesh relations from a closer comprehensive partnership of cooperation to a strategic partnership of cooperation and to increase high level exchanges and strategic communication so that our bilateral relations continue to move ahead at a higher level," Xi said after his talks with Hasina.
He termed Bangladesh and China "good neighbours, good friends and good partners."
"China-Bangladesh relationship is now at a new historical starting point and heading toward a promising future," Xi said.
"China is ready to work with Bangladesh to move forward as friends and partners who trust and support each other and to add more substance to China-Bangladesh strategic partnership of cooperation," he said.
After Xi and Hasina held bilateral talks, the two countries signed 27 deals -- 15 MoUs and 12 loan and framework agreements ?- on different projects. However, there were reports that China may offer up to USD 40 billion credit, both sides refrained from providing the details of the loan amount.
At the signing ceremony, Hasina noted that she had a "very fruitful" discussion with Xi on issues like improving bilateral, regional, and international cooperation.
"We agreed to form synergy between our respective development strategies, jointly advance the belt and road initiative and launch the joint feasibility study on a China- Bangladesh FTA to strengthen our trade and investment cooperation and strengthen practical cooperation in key areas such as infrastructure, productivity capacity, energy and power, transportation, ICT and agriculture," Xi said.
He said China would "continue to do its best" to provide capital, technological and human resources support and carry out "more cooperation" on big projects with Bangladesh to support its economical and social development.
"There was a closer comprehensive cooperation between Bangladesh and China. But the cooperation has been lifted to a strategic relationship," Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque told a media briefing after Xi-Hasina talks.
"Both the leaders said Bangladesh-China relations are based on trust and are time tested and therefore the relations have now been elevated to a strategic level," he said.
He said they also agreed to jointly advance the BCIM economic corridor and increase communication and coordination of international and regional issues of shared interest.
Prime Minister Hasina in her statement reiterated that Bangladesh supports China in all of its core issues including "one China policy".
"We have agreed to work closely and support each other on regional and international issues of mutual interest," she was quoted as saying by Bangladeshi media.