India has nothing to fear from closer relationship between China and Bangladesh

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2016/10/12 0:43:39

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.

Chinese President Xi Jinping's upcoming visit to Bangladesh is seen by some in India as a trip to snatch the South Asian country from the embrace of New Delhi. During his state visit, Xi will meet with Bangladeshi President Abdul Hamid and hold talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The groundbreaking visit to Bangladesh is likely to help consolidate bilateral ties and boost economic cooperation between the two countries.

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.

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. The initiative, connecting more than 4 billion people in 65 countries, is not about marking Beijing's strategic circle on the subcontinent of South Asia, but instead represents an open-ended initiative that welcomes the participation of numerous other countries.

China hopes to broaden its pragmatic cooperation and promote common development with all the countries along the routes, but to what extent the initiative can bring benefits to a country will depend on its willingness to participate in the initiative and its degree of openness to the outside world. Compared with India, some other countries, Bangladesh included, are showing a greater willingness to cooperate with China in this regard.

Bangladesh's geographic location makes it an irreplaceable link connecting India and China, and efforts to boost the local economy and improve infrastructure in Bangladesh could bring development momentum for the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor. 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. India will not need to 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 favorable external conditions for connecting with markets in India, China and Southeast Asia.

However, 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 President Xi and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the BRICS summit.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.

Posted in: Eye on The Economy

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