As if it’s not enough that China was helping anti-Israel Pakistan to become world’s third big nuclear power – On Monday, Bangladesh received the delivery of its firstever submarine from China. In 2013, Bangladesh prime minister Husina Sheikh signed a contract with China for the purchase of two submarines worth $203 million to boosts country’s naval power to protect its share in the resource-rich Bay of Bengal which are claimed by both neighboring Hindu-majority India and Buddhist-majority Myanmar.
One wonders why Bangladesh buys arms from India’s no.1 regional enemy China, considering it’s India which created Bangladesh out of then East Pakistan in 1971.
Chinese president visited Xi Jinping during October 2016 visit to Dhaka signed $20 billion loan to Bangladesh which irked Indian prime minister Narendra Modi. Hasina is trying her best to maintain a careful balancing act between cultivating economic ties with China, already the country’s largest trading partner, and maintaining good relations with India.
“Bangladesh is in India’s sphere of influence. Understandably, India is watching Bangladesh’s growing ties with Beijing. But Bangladesh is improving ties with China carefully so that it does not jeopardise its relations with India,” said Ali Riaz, political science professor at Illinois State University told AFP.
In 2013, Husina Sheikh also signed a billion-dollar deal with Russia to buy fighter training jets, helicopters and anti-tank missiles.
After Hasina’s fraud re-election in 2014, which was criticized by several western government, she has been wooing China and Russia for billions of dollars in aid to shore up country’s economic bankruptcy.
Husina Sheikh paid a five-day visit to China last year. She paid a 2-day visit to Russia in 2013.
How independent and free is Bangladesh? Dilly Hussein, deputy editor of UK-based Islamic news website 5Pillars, has this to say: “It has remained an Indian proxy since 1971 and dances to the tunes played in Washington and London like T20 cheerleaders to a six. The sour truth of this break-up between two brothers is that the only winner was India, who didn’t have to worry about a unified Muslim state on its eastern and western flank.”