Beijing woos Dhaka with tariff cuts, but Bangladeshis oppose China

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May 5, 2013 - Dhaka, Bangladesh - A group of Islamist activates gather on a highway and shout slogan at an entry point to the city as the activist enforce a siege as part of theor protest in Dhaka on May 5, 2013. At least three people was shot dead and 35 people were injured. Hundred of thousand of hard-line Islamist demanding a new blasphemy law blocked major highway cutting off the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka from the rest of the country, police said. © Monirul Alam (Credit Image: � Monirul Alam/ZUMAPRESS.com)

New Delhi: Citizens of Bangladesh are not happy even as China offered to exempt tariff on 97 per cent of the products made in their country. Widespread protests have broken out in Bangladesh’s capital city Dhaka, despite Chinese President Xi Jinping making all attempts to woo Bangladesh by offering measures that would boost its trade.

Hundreds of people gathered in the capital to oppose China’s move, which is to be effective from July 1, amid huge controversies that engulf the dragon nation over its handling of the Uighur Muslims.

People not only shouted slogans against China but even showed solidarity with India.

“People of Bangladesh do not have any regard for China particularly because of the way the Uighur Muslims are treated there and its proximity with Pakistan,” an analyst, who did not wish to be identified, told IN. “They feel closer to India because of its social fabric and democracy,” the analyst said.

There were several placards which highlighted that bilateral ties between India and Bangladesh must remain intact.

Human Rights Watch has already pointed out how millions of Uighur Muslims face discrimination and surveillance. The Uighur Muslims are even made to give DNA and biometric samples. About 1 million Uighur Muslims are reportedly held in detention camps in China.

While earlier China denied that any such detention camp existed, later it said that they were merely schools which imparted vocational education. However, evidences clearly reveal that Uighur Muslims are detained in these camps, they are given lessons in Mandarin and are also asked to give up their religion.

US President Donald Trump has now signed “a law that allows for sanctioning as human rights violators Chinese officials responsible for running camps imprisoning up to 1 million Muslim Uighurs in the Xinjiang Province of western China”, said NBC News.

At present, 3,095 products made in Bangladesh enjoy duty-free access to Chinese market under the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA). From July 1, 5,161 more products will be made duty free.

The facility has been offered to Bangladesh as a Least Developed Country (LDC).

Like many other countries, Bangladesh’s dependence on China for financial assistance has increased over the last few years. China’s investment into the country has increased manifold since 2016.

Under China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Beijing and Dhaka have already signed multiple deals amounting to about $21.5 billion to boost infrastructure. However, several voices in Bangladesh have already expressed their concern over the country’s growing dependence over China.

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