Bangladesh balances between big brothers China and India | East Asia Forum
In recent months, both Bangladesh and Japan have appeared to be of Japan's interest in revitalizing bilateral relations between two toxic emissions will be a fraction of those in the U.S. and France. One significant question is the response of China, presently Bangladesh's largest economic partner. This Asia Society Investment Report is intended to assist Bangladeshi bilateral trade and investment relations and the to urge the U.S. corporate sector to . access to the European Union, Canada, Australia, Japan, Norway, and China. Apart from long-lasting ties with Pakistan, China's economic historic visit to Bangladesh in , China offered a gargantuan US$ billion to as one of several infrastructure development partners along with Japan and.
It was expressed that the establishment of a link similar to the connectivity between China and Myanmar was desired. The Chinese Ambassador had earlier stated that China wants peace in Bangladesh for smooth development. What are the issues which India needs to resolve with Bangladesh?
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The sinews of the Sino-shadow While India played a pivotal role in the independence of Bangladesh, it now witnesses a shift in the priority given to its ties by its Eastern neighbour. Dhaka desires good relations with India but fears the shadow of its western Big Brother. Hence Bangladesh has welcomed China to be one of its most vital partners in the decades since The matrix of Beijing-Dhaka relations permeates multiple avenues, ranging from strategic to commercial, from energy security to infrastructural.
Of these the strategic ties are one of the most salient. Naval defence is being given particular attention. India is most concerned about the sale of two Ming-Class submarines inas they may enter Indian waters. In addition, Bangladesh set up a missile launch pad near Chittagong Port with assistance from China in These developments make it clear that Bangladesh fears perceived Indian hegemony. However, Sheikh Hasina has reassured Delhi that her state will not be a base for anti-Indian manoeuvres.
Such traditional military threats do not exist, but there are non-traditional threats towards India. These include terrorist outfits operating from Bangladeshi soil. This is one reason for which Bangladesh is keen to have strong military alliance with China, apart from counter-insurgency cooperation with India. Besides, a strong military setup adds a perception of stability in the eyes of international community which is observing constant political turmoil in Bangladesh.
A strong military at the border will help check the large refugee influx from Myanmar. Energy security is a key driving factor — Bangladesh has discovered enormous energy reserves in its waters, which penetrate the disputed territory. The incentive for harnessing these reserves has prompted China to go beyond providing the defence component to contain the dispute.
China has also mediated between Bangladesh and Myanmar. The negotiation was successful in preventing Naypyitaw from exploring for oil in disputed waters.
On the other hand India is avoiding engaging in constant high-level defence ties with Bangladesh. This reserved approach is to prevent confronting China as well as to pacify Myanmar. Myanmar is undergoing political and economic transformation and a democratic India does not want to upset the improving relations with Naypyitaw. Nevertheless, China is pushing ahead with its strategic and commercial forays in Bangladesh at full speed.
Bangladesh balances between big brothers China and India
In this context China is helping to develop the Chittagong port along the coast of Bangladesh. It is significant that Chittagong is in proximity to Kyaukphyu, a Myanmar port from where an oil pipeline is being built to Kunming.
If an oil pipeline is built from Chittagong, it can be parallel to the Myanmar energy transit route originating from Kyaukphyu and Sittwe, thus expanding a valuable energy corridor for China. Bangladesh too desires enhanced infrastructure. Dhaka has sought Chinese assistance in constructing a highway passing through Myanmar to Yunnan province of China.
A rail network passing through the same area has also been proposed. Sheikh Hasina had asked India to also contribute to the development of Chittagong port in This island is an important air force base for Bangladesh. Interestingly, China is already involved in the Sonadia port development project.
It indicates that Bangladesh fears both Chinese and Indian influence. On a similar note, Bangladesh is unlikely to allow China to setup naval bases at its ports in order to maintain good relations with India. Beijing has also inked a nuclear cooperation agreement with Dhaka in In addition China has crossed the space frontier with Bangladesh by engaging in talks to launch a satellite for the small state.
While China and Bangladesh share several points of strategic convergence, there does remain one irritant — the Brahmaputra river issue. The more investment Bangladesh receives from China, the quicker it would achieve its goal in becoming a middle income country by Both countries have substantial to gain from adapting and developing this investment relationship. The governments and the people interact closely in the case of investment and the relationship is deep and lasting. Chinese loans are not friendly to Bangladesh because loans are to be repaid from 10 to 13 years with grace period of 3 years only.
However, the government of Bangladesh reportedly is seeking repayment of Chinese loan for 20 years with a grace period of 5 years for 14 infrastructure projects. Japan and Bangladesh Shinzo Abe visited Bangladesh on with two primary objectives: Bangladesh wants Japanese financial support for the projects which reportedly included Padma rail link at Dhaka-Jajira-Bhanga-Narail-Jessore, construction of inland container depot at Dhirasram and building Dhaka east-west elevated expressway and Ganges Barrage scheme.
The country once prided itself as the second largest economy has been now over taken by China. Bangladesh is of strategic importance not only to South Asian region but to the larger geo-political dynamics of Asia as a whole.
Bangladesh is a physical conduit between South and South East Asia and its access to the Indian Ocean through the Bay of Bengal is strategically and commercial important. All these factors make it necessary for China and Japan to maintain friendly and cooperative relations with Bangladesh.