Chinese Maritime Overtures to Bangladesh Makes India Wary
19:44 25.11.2016(updated 19:46 25.11.2016)
Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar will visit Dhaka at an awkward time in bilateral ties after Bangladesh accepted a generous aid offer including submarines from China.
NEW DELHI (Sputnik) – Manohar Parrikar, accompanied by vice chiefs of all the three services, will visit Dhaka to participate in Bangladesh's Liberation Anniversary celebrations. But analysts sense a palpable nervousness in the Indian establishment since October when visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping offered a $24 billion credit line to Bangladesh.
Indian unease deepened after a month when Bangladesh announced that it will receive two Chinese submarines by early next year.
"Beijing's overarching intent behind the sale of submarines would be to go beyond strengthening political ties with Dhaka. The long-term submarine training and maintenance needs of the Bangladesh Navy would also enable China's military presence in the Bay of Bengal, and enable it to collate sensitive data for PLA Navy's submarine operations in the future," says Gurpreet S Khurana, India Navy Captain and Executive Director at Indian Maritime Foundation.
India may also further sweeten its defense cooperation with Bangladesh by offering to supply offshore naval vessels on credit.
But, experts do not believe such a piece meal approach is sufficient to tackle Chinese "aggression". "Evidently, India's foreign policy vis-á-vis Bangladesh needs to be recalibrated. At the national-strategic level, India possesses insufficient financial and defense-industrial wherewithal to offset China's overwhelming influence upon Bangladesh. New Delhi may need to graduate from its long-standing policy of 'appeasing' Dhaka to a 'carrot and stick' policy," Captain Khurana added.
India has long considered Bangladesh part of its area of influence and its armed forces helped it secede from Pakistan in 1971. India shares cordial political and security ties with the current regime and last year gave a $2 billion grant to Bangladesh.
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