Turkey and China were making desperate attempts to steal India’s 50-year old friend, Bangladesh. However, with a $500 million line of credit to the South Asian country, New Delhi has just cancelled Turkey and China’s grip on Dhaka.
Turkey and China were selling a lot of defence equipment to Bangladesh, but India’s $500 million line of credit, leaves no or little scope for Turkey or China to make any deep inroads in Bangladesh’s defence sector.
Bangladesh to import defence equipment from India:
According to Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Bangladesh will soon import defence equipment from India under the USD 500 million Line of Credit provided by New Delhi and several identified equipment are now being fast tracked.
The Foreign Secretary said, “I think the issue of imports of defence related items by Bangladesh, you are aware that we have signed, we have extended the line of credit for defence items for USD 500 million. Under this line of credit, several items have been identified and being fast tracked. They’re in fairly advanced stages of being processed… we will see certain defence items exports from India coming to Bangladesh and this is something that we would like to see.”
Shringla added that “essentially the entire gamut of cooperation, whether it is training, exchanges, joint manufacturing in the defence sector, this is something that we would like to see enhanced”.
India cancels Turkey and China’s grip over Dhaka:
The defence exports by India to Bangladesh under the $500 million line of credit come as a huge setback for both China and Turkey. Both these countries were planning on using Bangladesh to ramp up their defence exports. Bangladesh, in fact, emerged as the fourth-largest arms purchaser from Turkey. It purchased arms worth $60 million out of Ankara’s roughly $1 billion in defense products exports in the first four months of this year.
Defence ties between Turkey and Bangladesh were expanding. 41 Bangaldeshi troops also participated in a training in Turkey on the Tiger MLRS (c) delivered by Ankara earlier this year.
Last month, Turkey’s envoy to Bangladesh, Mustafa Osman Turan, made a desperate push to expand defence ties even further. He proposed technology transfer and joint ventures in defence production to woo Bangladesh.
On the other hand, China has traditionally been the biggest exporter of defence equipment to Bangladesh. Between 2013 and 2017, the South Asian country imported 71% of its defence equipment from China. Over the past one decade, Dhaka has reportedly spent $2.59 billion on Chinese military equipment purchases.
For India, Turkish and Chinese military exports to Bangladesh are a huge security risk. China is, of course, India’s biggest enemy and Turkey is a long-time friend of Pakistan. New Delhi simply cannot let such adverse powers sell defence equipment to a friendly nation in India’s neighbourhood.
Why Bangladesh must not import arms from China and Turkey?
Bangladesh has invested billions of dollars in Chinese defence equipment. However, Bangladesh military is now facing quality and longevity issues with Chinese defence equipment.
According to ET, defects have been detected in the Chinese frigates purchased for the Bangladesh Navy. The Bangladesh Air Force too is facing issues with basic trainer aircraft and K-8 aircraft. A short-range air defence system for the Bangladesh military too has come under the scanner.
China sells substandard defence equipment in the name of cutting edge defence technology. So, Bangladesh must avoid spending more for faulty defence equipment coming from China.
As for Turkey, Bangladesh should understand that it is an Islamist regime headed by a warmonger, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is seen as a moderate leader and under her watch, Dhaka must not engage with an Islamist. After all, when Bangladesh was fighting for liberation in 1971, Ankara had supported Islamabad and not the Bangladeshi freedom fighters.
India is offering top-notch defence equipment to Bangladesh, and that would allow Sheikh Hasina to totally cut the dependence of Bangladesh military on inimical powers like Turkey and China.