New Delhi need not be “jealous” of Beijing and Dhaka’s increasing friendship but could use this as an opportunity to improve bilateral relations with China during the BRICS summit in Goa this weekend, the state-run Global Times has suggested.
In an article on Wednesday, the tabloid argued that a growing relationship between China and Bangladesh – where President Xi Jinping will be on October 14 a day before reaching Goa – will convince India to not only to recalibrate ties with South Asian countries but also with China.
“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,” the usually hawkish Global Times said.
In a long-winded argument it said, “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 (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit.”
Despite India’s close ties with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Maldives in the region, the tabloid which is affiliated to the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) mouthpiece, People’s Daily, presumes that such ties don’t exist now.
“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,” it said.
The article also refers to views that Beijing is trying to checkmate New Delhi’s influence in the region.
“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,” the article added.
“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,” it said.
But Indians are “flattering” themselves by assuming that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is aimed at balancing New Delhi’s influence in South Asia, it said.
“Some Indian people may mistakenly flatter themselves when they think China’s BRI 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,” the GT article argued.
Compared with India, some other countries, including Bangladesh 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 investments and loans to improve local infrastructure, the article said.