China is all set to extend a staggering amount of $24 billion (Rs 1.6 lakh crore) in loan to Bangladesh when its President Xi Jinping visits the country today ahead of the BRICS Summit in Goa. This will be, till date, Dhaka’s biggest credit line to help it construct power plants, a seaport and railways.
Planning to fund as many 25 projects and build a deep sea port, the move by China can also be seen as a counteract against India as Prime Minister Narendra Modi had offered a $2 billion (around Rs 13,400 crore) assistance to Bangladesh last year.
As per Bangladesh junior finance minister MA Mannan, “Xi's visit will set a new milestone. (A) record amount of loan agreements will be signed during the visit, roughly $24 billion.”
The sponsored projects include highways and information technology development, he said.
Xi Jingping’s visit, the first by a Chinese president in 30 years, is said to be "crucial" to open a new chapter in bilateral ties especially in the fields of economy and trade.
Analysts said Dhaka sought to develop economic ties with China keeping its warm strategic and political relations with next door India, as its traditional ally and the dominant power in South Asia.
With the move, China appears to have gone well beyond what India had offered to Bangladesh.
However, Zhao Gancheng, director of South Asia Studies at Shanghai Institute for International Studies, said that Bangladesh equally welcomes assistance from both the countries.
"I really don't think there is a zero sum game going on in Bangladesh between China and India. Bangladesh welcomes both Chinese and Indian investment,” he said.