Newsroom | China-Bangladesh | After destroying Pakistan, now China is going to conduct military exercises with Bangladesh for the first time, India’s problems will increase!

Announcing the China-Bangladesh Golden Friendship 2024 joint exercise, Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson Senior Colonel Wu Qian said in Beijing on April 25 that the joint exercise in Bangladesh, which is “based on United Nations peacekeeping counter-terrorism operations” by both sides Participate in joint exercises. The theme of the exercise – such as rescuing hostages in buses and clearing terrorist camps.”

Strong economic ties between China and Bangladesh

China and Bangladesh have strong economic relations. Beijing has invested more than $25 billion in various projects in Bangladesh, the second largest investment in any South Asian country after Pakistan. It has played an important role in the construction of bridges, roads, railway tracks, airports and power plants in Bangladesh. Bilateral trade increased from $3.3 billion in 2009-10 to over $20 billion in 2021-22. Importantly, a wide range of products from Bangladesh face zero duty in China.

Furthermore, China has emerged as an important military ally of Bangladesh. It provided two refurbished submarines to the Bangladesh Navy in 2016 at a concessional price of $205 million. Additionally, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had last year inaugurated a $1.21 billion China-built submarine base. Located in Cox’s Bazar on the coast of the Bay of Bengal, this base can simultaneously house six submarines and eight warships. China’s strong ties with Bangladesh, particularly in naval cooperation, stem from a 2002 defense cooperation agreement, which covers military training and defense supplies.

The planned joint military exercise will deepen bilateral defense cooperation.

In China’s military strategy, engaging in international joint military exercises is seen as an important aspect of the use of military power abroad, which strategists classify under “non-combat military operations”. These exercises, whether conducted bilaterally or multilaterally, are generally regarded as “soft uses” of “hard power” in the international arena.

Joint military exercises in neighboring India will be closely monitored. “We keep a close eye on all developments in our neighborhood and beyond that affect our interests, economic and security interests, and we will take appropriate action accordingly,” India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said at a media conference. Let’s pick it up.”

Although Bangladesh and India have conducted 11 military exercises between 2009 and 2023, the Sino-Bangladeshi exercises have raised many concerns over their impact on Bangladesh and India-Bangladesh relations. Is Bangladesh gradually distancing itself from India and seeking closer ties with China? Is it time for India to rethink its relations with Bangladesh? Will Bangladesh become a victim of India-China tension?

“Through this exercise Bangladesh is being drawn into the cold war between India and China,” Altaf Pervez, a researcher on Southeast Asian history and politics, told The Diplomat. The Indian government has been viewing Pakistan as an enemy for a long time. He is now looking at China from the same perspective,” Parvez said. With China trying to strengthen its military presence in South Asia, “the US will put pressure on India to focus more on Bangladesh,” adding that the US is “escalating” the hostilities.

According to Pervez, Bangladesh should not engage in military exercises as it is a small developing country and does not need such militarization. “It will only attract trouble from all sides.”

India and Bangladesh share strong cultural, social and economic ties. However, there are several points of contention. The most prominent among these is the long-running bilateral river water dispute. There is also a significant trade imbalance between the two countries, which is in favor of India. While this gives India a boost in its long-term ambition to globalize the rupee for trade, Bangladesh benefits little.

Then there is also the question of the killing of a large number of Bangladeshi citizens by the Indian Border Security Force while crossing the border into India. This has made the India-Bangladesh border one of the deadliest borders in the world. Surprisingly, there has been no incident of Indian citizens being killed by Bangladeshi forces on the border.

While China’s ties with Dhaka have been strengthening, India’s role in Bangladesh is often criticized. Indeed, when traveling across Bangladesh, it is difficult to ignore the large and growing Chinese economic presence in the country.

While China contributes significantly to economic development and infrastructure projects in Bangladesh, India exerts substantial influence on the internal politics of Bangladesh. This influence has triggered a quiet “Boycott India” movement within Bangladesh, with the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) accusing India of supporting the ruling Awami League. Following a controversial general election on January 7 this year, which was boycotted by the BNP and several other opposition parties, reports emerged of India’s heavy influence on the electoral process, including alleged involvement of the US and others in order to retain the Awami League. Involved deals with Western powers. Power.

On the other front, Bangladesh currently hosts about 1 million Rohingya refugees following their flight from Myanmar in 2017. China has offered assistance in repatriating them to Myanmar, but the issue remains unresolved. Bangladesh may try to engage with China on this matter through cooperation in military exercises.

Although the weapons and submarines provided by China to Bangladesh do not pose an immediate security threat to India, India should pay attention to it as it strengthens China’s influence on Bangladesh, which could potentially affect India’s Indo-Pacific Affects strategy.

According to Monish Tourangbam, Honorary Director, Kalinga Institute of Indo-Pacific Studies (KIIPS), “Bangladesh is the most important node in the emerging geopolitics of the Bay of Bengal, which is the theater not only of India-China power dynamics but also of the broader Indo-Pacific Also of America-China competition.

He stressed that “the China-Bangladesh joint military exercises, which will reportedly focus on counter-terrorism scenarios, will not immediately impact New Delhi. However, India has an important role to play in building a multipolar South Asia that believes in consultative partnerships with its neighbors amid China’s growing influence in the region.

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