The Narendra Modi government is loving swiftly to check China’s growing strategic footprint in Bangladesh, but till what extent it can do so is not clear. According to a report in ToI, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is likely to visit Bangladesh sometime in the end of this month to deepen bilateral ties. The report stated that the bilateral defence cooperation between India and Bangladesh is set to get a major upgrade, and Parrikar’s visit is aimed at finalising the nuances of the new framework.
The new defence cooperation framework will imply technology transfer, increased military supplies, training and joint exercises, along with better cooperation on the issue of counter terrorism – an issue close to the heart of both countries. While Parrikar’s visit will look to finalise the new framework, it is likely to be signed only during Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina’s India visit in December this year.
Chinese President Xi Jinping recently visited Bangladesh and signed deals worth $25 billion. As the report points out, India can in no way hope to match China’s economic muscle or defence base. But, the Modi government should definitely not ignore China’s deepening ties with Bangladesh, especially given the fact China is increasingly looking to flex its muscles in the Asian region.
Yesterday, the Bangladesh Navy received two Type 035G-class submarines from China for $203 million. The move only goes to further underline the growing bonhomie between Bangladesh and China. Type 035G-class submarines area, also known as Ming-class, is a class of diesel-electric submarines of China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy. The primary weaponry for Type 035G is Yu-3 torpedo, and French sonar DUUX-5 and its Chinese-built version were used on later units, 12 of which were completed between 1990 and 1999.
But all is not lost for India, as under the Prime Ministership of Sheikh Hasina, the India-Bangladesh ties have been good. In fact, Bangladesh was one of the first nations to pull out of the SAARC Summit after India announced its decision to not attend. Bangladesh has been a victim of terrorism, and earlier this year had blamed Pakistan for the Dhaka terror attack. Post the Uri terror attack on Indian Army, Bangladesh had slammed Pakistan, openly supporting India. It is in both India and China’s interest to deepen ties with Bangladesh, and it remains to be seen how the regions powerful geo-political dynamics will play out.