Bangladesh plays the China card

Like the juntas in Myanmar and Pakistan, Bangladesh offers its ports to China

Bangladesh is offering its Chittagong port to the Chinese navy, providing it access to the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. To some extent, China already enjoys access to the Bay of Bengal thanks to the Myanmar junta, who also provide it with offshore naval and electronic surveillance facilities at the Coco Islands in near the Andaman Sea. Similarly, China is assisting Pakistan with the Gwadar deep sea port which it can access via overland routes through Pakistan. Countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh bending over backwards to please China, if only to thumb a strategic nose at India.

But the Indian navy too is quietly venturing closer to China’s own backyard. Apart from patrolling the Straits of Malacca in partnership with Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, it has also begun to conduct joint exercises in the South China Sea. The countries of South East Asia are not too comfortable with Chinese naval influence in the region, especially given the multi-party territorial dispute over the Spratly Islands.

While the India-China naval dynamic will develop over the next decade, the history of the Indian subcontinent seems to be repeating itself – feuding states of the subcontinent invite foreign powers in the hope of going one up over their neighbours. Getting rid of the foreign power once it converts its toe-hold into a footprint proves painfully difficult.

11 thoughts on “Bangladesh plays the China card”

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  2. What grows old soon? Gratitude!
    BTW, I thought the US was going to get a military base out there too. If so, then the US should be cosy enough with the establishment to prevent the Chinese intrusion.
    China is just another reason we must cosy up to the US.
    And Nitin, I seriously think that the comparison with the East India Company is all wrong. Countries give military bases and they can always take them back.

  3. Well, not too bad. India should invite China to base in Indian territory, that’l be good for India-China relations. I am sure India can offer better pricing to China than Bangladesh, Sri Lanka or Pakistan. From China’s perpective, they do not see India as a big threat. They are just trying to get as many bases as they can. Even in tiny pacific islands like Tonga and Samoa, the Chinese are busy setting up facilities.

    Vietnam was offering one of its former Russian bases in Danang to India. Wonder whatever happened to it.

  4. If china already has a presence in Myanmar a base in Bangladesh will add little value except for ticking off India.
    India should not be too concerned over the development. It already is being approached by singapore and some other south-east Asian country for joint patrolling besides its relationship with the US navy has been growing with the annual malabar excersices to be carried out soon.
    Also inviting others to set up base in a country creates conflict in the long run as has been the experience with US bases around the world.

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  6. The larger problem with Bangladesh is Islamic terrorism and the influence of Wahabbism both due to an influx of money from Saudi Arabia and Bangladeshis returning from SA after having lost their jobs due to the new Saudi program of “nationalization” of jobs. India is not asleep at the switch and has begun offering a number of training programs for Bangladeshi officers of the AF and Navy with a view to gaining influence.
    an earlier post has reference to an offer of a base – it is Cam Ranh Bay currently run by the Russians with the lease running out this year – so far India has not moved on it.

  7. Kiran,

    Morals, gratitude and principles matter less in foreign policy, pursuit of national interest matters more. and it would be unreasonable to expect Bangladesh to be forever grateful to India.

    Bangladesh is increasingly defining its national interest in terms that are antagonistic to India. Regardless of whether they are grateful or not, this is not in India’s own interests. India must work towards an outcome where Bangladesh does not see its interests necessarily against India’s. As Kautilya points out, Bangladesh is not offering anything unique to China, so its efforts may not amount to much. But its intentions send a message to India.

  8. Vijay . You assertion couold not be any further away from right. Read news from other sources than only Indian. It would help you understand the World better.

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