China has called on Chittagong Customs to provide efficient customs clearance facilitation for imports from China and ensuring safety of export inspection and quarantine of goods to promote bilateral trade in this ‘emergency’ period. "We hope that both sides will continue to maintain sound trade exchanges in goods and services," said the Chinese Embassy in Dhaka in a media release urging the Bangladeshi businessmen to believe in China.
Chinese Ambassador to Dhaka Mr Li Jiming asserted that Chinese nationals working in different mega projects in Bangladesh will return soon and there will be no hindrance to implementation of mega projects. Over the years, as Bangladesh's largest trading partner, China has provided Bangladesh with stable sources of raw materials and various commodities of high quality and low price, giving important material support for Bangladesh's economic development, said the embassy.
The Chinese government said they believe that China will remain Bangladesh's most reliable trading partner in future. China hoped that people in Bangladesh will not panic but calmly and rationally evaluate the risk, follow the guidelines of health professional authorities such as WHO, avoid overreaction and not follow rumours.
"There is a saying in China which goes that ‘the rumour ends with the wise’. We believe that the people of Bangladesh are the wise," the embassy said. The Embassy said as a responsible major country, China has taken stringent measures of control such as suspension of international tour groups, temperature screening at exit points, requiring outbound passengers to fill out and sign health declaration forms, and has made every effort to prevent the virus from spreading beyond China.
The Chinese Embassy in Bangladesh conducted a statistical screening of the health condition of Chinese nationals in Bangladesh soon after the outbreak, and no suspected or confirmed cases have so far been identified. The Embassy has already issued notices to Chinese citizens and organisations to minimise their travel between China and Bangladesh in the next few weeks.
"We hope that Bangladesh can support and understand us, as always, in this battle against the epidemic, which China has all the confidence and capability to win," said the Chinese Embassy in Dhaka. In a highly responsible manner, China has done a lot to ensure the health and safety of the Bangladeshi expatriates in China, and has always maintained communication with the Bangladeshi side to update the development of the epidemic and China's prevention and control efforts, it said.
Understanding the concerns of the families and friends of some of the Bangladeshi nationals in Wuhan, the Chinese embassy said they agreed to let Bangladesh bring back its citizens. "We are told the returnees are now in quarantine and we sincerely hope for the best for them. So far, no Bangladeshi national in China or Bangladesh has been infected with the virus," it said.
Several days ago, Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming spoke to Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen and Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Asadul Islam respectively on the COVID-19 outbreak. Ambassador Li briefed them on China's prevention and control measures against the epidemic, and told them that the Chinese government and people are fully confident and capable of winning the battle.
Bangladesh praised the timely and resolute measures taken by China and its responsible and transparent stance over the issue, said the Chinese Embassy, adding that diplomats at all levels in the embassy are also maintaining close contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Health on relevant issues in this regard.
"We will not forget that the SARS epidemic raged in 2003, but we survived it and came out with a strengthened health system and booming national development," said the Chinese Embassy, adding that they are fully capable, confident and resourceful to overcome any difficulty during curbing the epidemic with the shortest time of period, and to reassure the public health and security of our people and the world at large.
Embassy's Impact Assessment on Projects
The number of Chinese enterprises in Bangladesh is huge, and the scope of engineering projects is diversified, which have been affected by the epidemic to varying degrees, said the embassy. Bangladesh has stopped issuing visas on arrival to Chinese citizens, resulting in delay in the return or assignment of some of the design management and construction personnel to the projects, which will have a great negative impact on the projects’ design and construction progress, said the embassy.
Padma Bridge Project
None of the returnees can return to work on schedule. Some of them are professional technicians and skilled workers on key construction lines, which will have a great negative impact on the construction progress of the whole bridge.
Payra Thermal Power Plant Project
About 300 Chinese are unable to return to work on site in time for this project. Professional technical personnel or management personnel are among them. At present, the project is at a critical stage of execution, and the absence of Chinese personnel will have a certain impact on the safety, quality, technology and progress of project execution.
Feasibility Study for Construction of Circular Rail Line around Dhaka City Project
The Chinese company, which is responsible for this project, is located in Wuhan City, the worst-hit area of this outbreak. The company cannot send staff to Bangladesh as planned to carry out work. Construction of Shore Protection in Two Lots in Bhasanchar Island
Affected by the outbreak, the domestic technical team of this project could not arrive in Bangladesh on time, and the technical and commercial bid negotiation related to the early stage of the project was hindered, which has a direct impact on whether the project could be negotiated and awarded on time.
Some new tenders for several substation projects to be submitted for tender of CRRC Ziyang are expected to be released in February and March. If the tenders are released in time, the Chinese company will not be able to participate in the bidding of the projects if it cannot send people there normally.
The development in China also affected the supply of equipment and material of ongoing projects implemented by Chinese companies in Bangladesh. Affected by the epidemic and the extension of the Spring Festival holiday, equipment and material supplies could not be shipped to Bangladesh according to plan, which will have serious negative impact on the progression of projects implemented by Chinese companies.
Padma Railway Link Project
This project, being constructed by China Railway Group Limited, which planned to make prefabricated railway sleeper in Wuhan Sleeper Company, is now impeded by the outbreak. The inventory construction material can only sustain for a while.
This project, undertaken by China Communications Construction Co Ltd, is facing problems of supply shortage of segments caused by the suspension of manufactures in China, and demands of certain materials and equipment can’t be met either. S Alam Thermal Power Plant Project
This project, undertaken by SEPCOIII Electric Power Construction Co Ltd, is facing serious lagging of contractual material and equipment delivery which is impeded by the suspension of manufactures in China during the outbreak and which will probably lead to a disruption in construction.
In addition, some projects such as project of Expansion and Strengthening of Power System Network under DPDC Area, the Dasherkandy Sewage Treatment Plant Project, the Installation of Single Point Mooring with Double Pipeline Project, the Modernization of Telecommunication Network for Digital Connectivity, the Barisal 350 MWThermal Power Plant, the Patuakhali 1320 MWThermal Power Plant,the China-Bangladesh Friendship Exhibition Center, the 8th Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge and so on, have also been affected adversely, said the embassy.
The cost of projects increases because of the restriction measures by Bangladesh, according to the Chinese side. Bangladesh Customs has tightened sanitary control to Chinese products, so some Chinese machinery and other products either cannot get clearance or get very slow clearance, said the embassy.
Bangladesh has enhanced physical examination of Chinese people, and thus suspended some projects under construction. It may affect the progress of the projects, and increases the cost of the projects and the EPC contractors, said the Chinese side. With the Chinese personnel’s inability to return from China, the progress of some projects will be delayed.
EPC contractors may face the cancelling of the EPC contract and need to compensate to the owner of projects. The efficiency of the projects under construction will be affected, because the EPC contractors have to increase personnel to explain to the local staffs, local communities and local governments to avoid excessive fear of the epidemic.