Bangladesh rolled out the red carpet to welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping as he arrived to a 21-gun salute in Dhaka on Friday, becoming the first Chinese President to visit the country in the past 30 years.
Four Bangladesh Air Force jets escorted the aircraft carrying the Chinese leader as it entered Bangladesh’s airspace.
Such reception from the air force is a gesture Bangladesh reserves for important guests. When West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee arrived in Dhaka, after 17 years in February 2015, the gesture was shown in a different way.
When AI 230 jet with Banerjee on board entered the Bangladeshi airspace, the captain announced: “This flight has been granted VIP status.”
President Abdul Hamid was at the VVIP terminal of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport to welcome Xi. But it was Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina who had received Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his state visit in 2015.
“We are very happy and feel honoured that President Xi is coming to Bangladesh. I believe that his visit will also be more important for South Asia (as well),” Hasina told Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency.
President Xi will sign off on loans worth over $24 billion to Bangladesh . This is the biggest foreign credit line to date Dhaka has ever received. This will help build power plants, a seaport and railways, which is part of China’s larger plans to fund huge infrastructure projects in South Asia in countries such as Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Maldives.
India considers Bangladesh a close ally. During his last visit, Modi announced a 2 billion dollar credit line to Bangladesh. In fine print, China plans to finance some 25 projects, including a 1,320 megawatt (MW) power plant, and a deep sea port, Bangladesh junior finance minister MA Mannan told Reuters.
China’s Jiangsu Etern Co Ltd had signed a deal worth $1.1 billion to strengthen the power grid network in Bangladesh—an area where India is helping Bangladesh in a big way.
Bangladesh backed Xi’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative to step up trade and transport links between Asia and Europe. Beijing had also proposed an economic corridor linking Bangladesh, Myanmar, China and northern India earlier.