A senior leader of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is leading a high-level delegation to Pakistan, Maldives and Bangladesh to further strengthen Beijing’s ties with countries in South Asia.
The Chinese government’s propaganda chief, Li Changchun’s visit to the three countries is being seen as an effort on the CPC’s part to further pave the way for thicker bilateral ties with the three countries.
China already has a heavy presence in all three countries; many see this as part of Beijing’s continuing, and arguably successful, attempts to counter India’s influence in Bangladesh and Maldives.
China also has close ties with Nepal and Sri Lanka where it not only helped the Mahinda Rajapaksa government with arms and ammunition to wipe out Tamil rebels but also has invested billions of dollars to build infrastructure.
“Li, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, will make the trips at the invitations of the Pakistani government, the government of the Maldives, and the Bangladesh Awami League party,” Huang Huaguang, spokesperson for the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, was quoted as having said by the state-run Xinhua.
Li is expected to be in Islamabad on Wednesday and Thursday before heading out to Male and Dhaka.
Earlier this week, Chinese President Hu Jintao exchanged congratulatory messages with his Maldivian counterpart Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik to mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, Xinhua reported.
Hu said over the past 40 years, friendly relations between China and Maldives have moved forward steadily. China-Maldives relations have become the model of friendship between a big country and a small one.
China stands ready to work with Maldives to promote the friendship between the two peoples to a higher level, Hu added.
For his part, Waheed said Maldives highly values the profound traditional friendship with China, and remains grateful for China's assistance to its development.
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Sunday also exchanged congratulatory messages with his Maldivian counterpart Abdul Samad Abdulla.