Space For Rent
Sunday, May 29, 2016, Jaistha 15, 1423 BS, Shaban 21, 1437 Hijri

Chinese Defence Minister in city
Diplomatic Correspondent
Published :Sunday, 29 May, 2016,  Time : 12:00 AM  View Count : 50
Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan arrived in Dhaka on Saturday evening for a three-day visit to discuss bi-lateral issues, especially Sino-Bangladesh military relations since the two countries established diplomatic ties 40 years ago. The Chinese minister has pledged deeper cooperation in the future.
China is now Bangladesh's largest supplier of military equipment.
The Chinese minister's visit follows the visit to China by Bangladesh's Chief of Army Staff, General Abu Belal Muhammad Shafiul Huq, in December last year, according to the Foreign Ministry sources.
During Belal's visit to China, both sides took note of developments in Sino-Bangladesh military relations and the pledged that both the sides would work for deeper cooperation in the future.
Military relations between the two countries have been bolstered by the fact that China is now Bangladesh's largest supplier of military equipment.
According to the sources Bangladesh is planning to buy two diesel-electric submarines from China, which, military experts say, will necessitate the construction of a submarine base in Bangladesh, a base that might play host to Chinese submarines in the future (as Sri Lanka's Colombo port did last year).
Beijing has supplied Dhaka with five maritime patrol vessels, two corvettes, 44 tanks, and 16 fighter jets, as well as surface-to-air and anti-ship missiles, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. That is in addition to new Ming-class submarines that Bangladesh ordered in 2013. The submarines will perhaps join the Bangladeshi fleet by end of 2016.
Meanwhile, the visit has created sensation in diplomatic arena. India has already said that it will closely watch the Dhaka visit of Chinese Defence Minister.
"In fact, Dhaka may have won tangible benefits from courting both China and India. In the past two years, Bangladesh has seen long-standing maritime and land border issues with India resolved in Dhaka's favour, perhaps New Delhi is eager to make sure its neighbour doesn't tilt too far to China's direction," says 'Diplomat' magazine.
"We are trying to figure out how much deeper military relations between Dhaka and Beijing will go," said a top official at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi.
Foreign Ministry sources said that the visiting Chinese Defence Minister will sit with the Prime Minister, Chief of Army Staff and senior officials.
China and Bangladesh have moved beyond hardware supply to developing a robust training and military exchange programme. The official was not willing to be named, however.
China built up a steady relationship with Bangladesh in the times of the military dictators Ziaur Rahman and H M Ershad.
The Chinese People's Liberation Army sends delegations to Bangladesh every year. In 2015 a new agreement signed during the Dhaka visit of a high-ranking Chinese military official ensured that China would provide training for Bangladeshi military personnel.
During the Bangladesh army chief's visit to China, Wang expressed his hope that "the two militaries can keep enhancing high-level exchange of visits, communication between military academies and cooperation in technologies and personnel training."
Belal said that Bangladesh was keen to increase its cooperation with China on personnel training and peacekeeping. Bangladesh and China are both major contributors of troops to UN peacekeeping missions.
Bangladesh features in the Belt and Road vision both in its overland plan -- via the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar corridor - and in its maritime version as a port hub for the Maritime Silk Road.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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