China has approached Bangladesh to sign a deal on blue economy and maritime cooperation in the Bay of Bengal, days after Dhaka and New Delhi signed such an accord.
Media reports quote an unnamed senior Foreign Ministry official
saying that Dhakka received a Chinese proposal on Wednesday to forge an alliance on blue economy.
Bangladesh and India signed a memorandum of understanding on blue economy and maritime cooperation in the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean on June 6 in the presence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
“We are now scrutinizing the proposal and hope to come to a conclusion as soon as possible,” the official said.
As Bangladesh lacks efficiency and capability in the marine sector, it approached China in these efforts long before. However, China was not responding. But, China woke up after signing Bangladesh’s deal with India on the issue. Now, the country has expressed its interest in signing a maritime cooperation agreement with Bangladesh.
Many international media, however, viewed the visit as Modi’s effort to lessen China’s presence in Bangladesh. China has made its presence strongly felt in the region with its massive funding in infrastructure projects including ports in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.
This has worried India, as analysts say, China is creating a so-called “string of pearls” across the Indian Ocean.
Bangladesh also wants to form a bloc comprising regional littoral states to cooperate in the field of blue economy. It has begun to pursue blue economy as a foreign policy ‘priority’ soon after it settled peacefully maritime disputes with India and Myanmar.