India is keeping an eye on strategic rival China's infrastructure projects in neighbouring South Asian nations including Bangladesh.
India's External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid recently informed the Lok Sabha (parliament) that the countries where China is engaged include Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Maldives and Pakistan.
Bangladesh has not officially issued any statement on this issue. However, an official of the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry on Tuesday expressed surprise that the Indian parliament debated on its neighbouring countries' infrastructure development projects by China.
The senior official of the South Asia Desk of the Foreign Ministry said China is a major development partner and one of the friendliest countries of Bangladesh and other South Asian neighbours.
The official said as understood from the statement of Minister Salman Khurshid in the Indian parliament that China is involved in the construction of or assistance to infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar; hydroelectric and IT projects in Nepal; IT and housing construction projects in Maldives; hydroelectric and nuclear projects, highways, motorways, export processing zones and economic corridors in Pakistan.
Former High Commissioner to India Liaquat Ali Chowdhury told daily Observer that he has read the text of Salman Khurshid made available Tuesday on an Indian government website.
Explaining the threat perception, the former diplomat stationed in New Delhi said India had always been concerned of Chinese experts and officials working in neighbourhood. India fears that Chinese are engaged in surveillance and eaves-dropping on India with sophisticated equipment.
Khurshid said in the parliament on February 5 that the "government keeps a constant watch on all developments having a bearing on India's security and takes all necessary measures to safeguard it."
India is an active development partner of its neighbours and is involved in various projects in these countries, the minister said referring to worries expressed by many political quarters in India that China is increasing its influence in countries seen as within India's traditional sphere of influence.
Khurshid, however, argued in the parliament that India's relations with other countries stand on their own footing and are independent of the relations of those countries with third countries.
Earlier Khurshid pointed out that nothing would prevent rapid engagement with China in any of the other fields in which India has no differences with the neighbouring country.
The minister also made it clear that China-India relations were on its own just as US-India relations were on its own, dismissing any suggestion of linkage.
South Asia accounted for about 70% of India's total commitments under grant assistance in 2012-13. Besides grant assistance, India extends lines of credit and undertakes manpower training under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation programme.