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Ahead of Brics Summit, China-Bangladesh bonhomie has India's attention: Here's why

An article titled 'India has nothing to fear from closer relationship between China and Bangladesh' published in Chinese newspaper Global Times on Wednesday said that India need not feel "jealous" about close relations between China and Bangladesh in the wake of President Xi Jinping's impending Dhaka visit.

"Xi's upcoming visit to Bangladesh is likely to raise bilateral relations to new heights and result in a large amount of investment and loans to improve local infrastructure in the South Asian country," the article said.

 Ahead of Brics Summit, China-Bangladesh bonhomie has Indias attention: Heres why

Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina (left) with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Reuters

"India need not be jealous of an increasingly close relationship between Beijing and Dhaka, because the improvement of local infrastructure and the overall economic ecology in Bangladesh will create favourable external conditions for connecting with markets in India, China and Southeast Asia," said the article.

The article, however, stated that it would not necessarily be a bad thing if an increasingly close relationship between China and Bangladesh puts "some pressure on New Delhi" to rethink its strategy in this region and encourages it to put more effort into improving relations with China during the upcoming meeting between Xi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Brics Summit in Goa.

Clearly, Bangladesh has become an important of the international diplomatic policies of both India and China.

Xi is scheduled to visit Dhaka later this week during which he was expected to announce some big ticket Chinese investments in Bangladesh.

According to reports from Dhaka, investments could amount to $40 billion.

"There have been misconceptions in India that China may feel unhappy if South Asian countries such as Bangladesh forge close ties with India and that China feels the need to build closer ties with Bangladesh," the article said.

Xi's visit is seen by some in India as a "trip to snatch the South Asian country from the embrace of New Delhi. The groundbreaking visit to Bangladesh is likely to help consolidate bilateral ties and boost economic cooperation between the two countries," it said.

The article said there is a popular view that China is trying to carve out for itself a pre-eminent role in South Asian affairs and that it intends to contain India's rise by seeking closer cooperation with countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

"In this regard, some people believe China's One Belt and One Road initiative has been used as a political tool to achieve Beijing's goals," the article said.

"But such views are too simplistic. Some Indian people may mistakenly flatter themselves when they think China's Belt and Road initiative is aimed at balancing India's influence," it said.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had also recently described China as a "trusted partner" and had said that Xi's visit this week would elevate the bilateral ties to newer heights as the country seeks enhanced cooperation in trade and investment.

On the other hand, India's ties with Bangladesh have only improved till now. After the historic Land Boundary Agreement was signed in June 2015, India's ties with Bangladesh further improved.

Moreover, Bangladesh is keen to have India as a "stakeholder" in the proposed $4 billion Ganges barrage project and a team from India's water resources ministry will soon visit Dhaka to hold talks in this regard, a senior minister has said.

State Minister for Water Resources Nazrul Islam said two Chinese firms were keen to wholly finance the project and even Japan was willing to fund at least USD 2 billion.

"But because the Ganges flows into Bangladesh from India, we take a long term view of the project and our prime minister is keen to get India into it," he told bdnews24 online. He said a team from India's water resources ministry will soon visit Dhaka to hold discussions on the barrage project.

"The issue was raised during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Dhaka last year. He showed much interest and Indian officials later asked for the project details which we have provided," Islam said.

According to this article in The Diplomat, China, Japan and India are all competing to build Dhaka's first deep sea port. "Too many powerful players are pushing for too many contending plans. This has left Bangladesh geopolitically stalemated, making and breaking deals, going with one project and then changing position and going with another. Ultimately, this plethora of options has pitted China, Japan, and India in direct competition with each other to build Bangladesh’s first deep sea port," said the article.

Perhaps this could explain some of the focus India and China have on Bangladesh.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Oct 13, 2016 15:11:25 IST

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