China and Bangladesh reaffirm their ties, sign 28 agreements in Beijing

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Beijing, July 11: China and Bangladesh are reaffirming their ties during a visit by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Beijing on Wednesday as tensions rise in the region over territorial disputes and resources.

China’s official Xinhua News Agency quoted Wang Huning, a member of China's Politburo Standing Committee who met with Hasina, as saying that “China and Bangladesh have respected and treated each other with equality, setting a good example of friendly coexistence and mutually beneficial cooperation between countries.”

Bangladesh occupies a strategic position between Myanmar, a long-time Chinese ally now wracked by internal conflict, and India, the rising Asian giant with which China has a longstanding border conflict.

Hasina met with her Chinese counterpart, Li Qiang, on Wednesday and oversaw the signing of 28 agreements between the countries covering mostly trade and investment.

While Bangladesh maintains development partnerships with the United States and India, it is also drawing closer to China, which is heavily engaged in the country’s major infrastructure projects.

Hasina is eager to strengthen relations to encourage Chinese investment in her country's economy, which faces challenges over a heavy debt burden. China also provides Bangladesh with tanks, missile launchers and other weapons and is building seaports, railway tracks, power plants and bridges. The U.S. remains Bangladesh's largest source of foreign direct investment.

Hasina’s visit to China is taking place a few weeks after she visited India, demonstrating her plans for a partnership with both neighbors in the face of growing interest by the U.S. in the Indo-Pacific region.

While the U.S. and European countries pressured Hasina’s administration to hold free and fair elections in January, China openly sided with Hasina. China has also showed a willingness to help Bangladesh's economy as it faces dwindling foreign currency reserves.

Media reports in Bangladesh say it will seek $20 billion in new loans from China during Hasina’s visit.

Concerns have risen over China’s border tensions with India, the Chinese military’s expansion into the South China Sea and Indian Ocean, fighting in neighbouring Myanmar and China’s control of water resources in the Himalayas that affects agriculture in Bangladesh and neighbouring countries. (AP)

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