The Bangladesh government formally requested China around one year ago to get involved in its proposed mega-plan about Teesta river. But Beijing has realised the sensitivities and geopolitical issues around the Teesta project and the “so called China debt-trap”. However, China is interested to get involved with the Teesta mega-plan if Bangladesh does not change its position.
China ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming said this to newspersons after a conference at a city hotel on Thursday evening. The programme was organised to publish the report of a survey on ‘National Image of China in Bangladesh’.
Dhaka University’s Centre for Genocide Studies (CGS) conducted the survey among 5,200 Bangladeshis in January and February this year. CGS researchers asked Bangladeshis questions on how they see various issues related to China.
CGS director and professor of International relations department at Dhaka University Imtiaz Ahmed presented the survey report at the outset of the programme, where the China ambassador was the chief guest.
Upon taking the decision to start the project, if someone comes and says, this would be yet another debt-trap of China, or due to specific geopolitical sensitivity Bangladesh says, sorry China, we can’t move ahead with the project anymore, I will be embarrassed if any such situation arises
Li Jiming visited the Teesta Barrage, the largest irrigation project in the country, and Teesta river in Nilphamari and Lalmonirhat on 9 October. There he said the Teesta project would be implemented soon. The area will change upon implementation of the project. A feasibility study of the Teesta mega-plan is going on and the governments of both the countries have been trying to begin the work soon.
“We surely want to get involved with the Teesta development project because Bangladesh requested us to get involved. We have informed Beijing that the project is very important. The project is now in the list of special evaluations of the concerned offices in Beijing,” the China ambassador said at the programme on Thursday.
Without naming any country, the China ambassador openly remarked about the sensitivity and geopolitical issues centering the transboundary river involving Bangladesh and India.
“I’m saying it openly here that China has some reservations about the project. There are some sensitive issues involved with the project, and we are aware of that. We have realised that,” said Li Jiming at the programme.
The China ambassador further said, “I’m personally concerned as well whether Bangladesh changes its position about the project due to pressure from outside or some other reasons. Upon taking the decision to start the project, if someone comes and says, this would be yet another debt-trap of China, or due to specific geopolitical sensitivity Bangladesh says, sorry China, we can’t move ahead with the project anymore, I will be embarrassed if any such situation arises.”
Li Jiming said he talked to the local people of Teesta Barrage and came to know that they need the project.
He further said he has learned answers to the questions he needed to know about the project by visiting the Teesta Barrage area. Following the visit, he has become confident about the project, Li Jiming added.
The China ambassador also said whatever be the concern regarding the Teesta mega-plan, the work of the project should be taken ahead for the sake of the local people.