DHAKA, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived here on Friday for a state visit, the first by a Chinese head of state in 30 years to this South Asian nation.
During the visit, Xi will meet with Bangladeshi President Abdul Hamid and National Assembly Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury, and hold talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
China and Bangladesh, both are populous developing countries, have maintained a sound relationship since they established diplomatic ties in 1975. In 2010, Xi paid an official visit to the nation as vice president.
Though listed as one of the world's least developed countries, Bangladesh has been witnessing robust economic growth over recent years and boasts tremendous market potential with a population of about 160 million.
Two-way trade between China and Bangladesh reached 14.7 billion U.S. dollars in 2015, up 17 percent year-on-year. China is currently Bangladesh's largest trading partner, while Bangladesh is the third largest of China in South Asia.
Bangladesh, in dire need of capital for development, is a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The AIIB has approved 165 million dollars in loans for a Bangladeshi project -- the first batch of loan for the country from the China-led development bank.
As an important cooperative partner for China in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region, Bangladesh is working closely with China on the Belt and Road Initiative and an economic corridor linking the two countries, as well as India and Myanmar.
The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by Xi in 2013, refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It is aimed at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes.
In an interview with Xinhua, Hasina expressed confidence that Xi's visit would usher in "a new era of intensive cooperation" in trade, investment and other sectors between the two nations.
Xi's visit to Bangladesh will be a "milestone," Chinese Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Kong Xuanyou said earlier, noting that both sides would make deals and bilateral relations would improve.
Xi met Hamid in November 2014 in Beijing. At the meeting, Hamid said Bangladesh expected to learn from China's experience in poverty alleviation and seize the chance brought by the Belt and Road Initiative to promote trade and connectivity.
During Hasina's visit to China in June 2014, she said Bangladesh will continue to support China firmly on issues involving its core interests and major concerns.
Bangladesh is the second leg of Xi's visit, which already took him to Cambodia. He will also travel to the western Indian state of Goa for a summit of the emerging-market bloc of BRICS, which groups Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.