Should we trade off Bangladesh for Myanmar ?

Sabir

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Should we trade off Bangladesh for Myanmar ?

Since its independence Bangladesh is considered a friend nation of India. However this friendship has not brought much gain for India in practical terms, nor for Bangladesh. Pro-Pakistani Islamist groups backed by ISI grew up in Bangladesh. The insurgent groups of N-E got shelters and received arms through Bangladesh, sometimes backed by anti-India regime of Khaleda Zia . Even a Minister of Khaleda Zia Ministry was found involved in transporting arms to N-E militant groups. However situation has changed in favour of India to some extent after Sk Hassina came back in power. But India can not have much expectation from her regarding economic cooperation as such cooperation with India often translated as a sacrifice of sovereignty by people of Bangladesh, specially by the Khaleda led BNP and surely affects vote bank of Hasina. So India neither can import Natural Gas from Bangladesh nor it can convince Bangladesh government for a transport route to land-lock North-Eastern states. Narrow Siliguri corridor (which is often termed as chicken neck) is the only link between N-E and Indian mainland. Though North-Eastern regions are full of resources, its isolation from other part of India not only hampered economic growth but also fueled separatist movements in almost all North-Eastern states as a consequence. Now the Chinese wants access to Bay of Bengal and decided to build up a deep sea port in Chitagang. Quite prudently Bangladeshi Prime Minister has not only convinced India to use this port (specially for N-E ) and give Nepal and Bhutan a transit to use this port but she also convinced Chinese government to build up a road link up to China through Myanmar. However Indian government should not forget previous records of Bangladesh before jumping on its toes. It also has to calculate whether this route will be safe if BNP-Jamaat again comes in power. Clearly strategic location of Bangladesh and recent enthusiasm of China to be involved in South Asia have given Bangladesh a good bargaining power. So India needs to find a solution to prevent Bangladesh from unnecessary bargaining (read blackmailing).

India-Myanmar relation has been improved a lot in recent years and India not only supplying military hardware to military Junta of Myanmar but negotiating to improve economic relation. However, it will not be wrong to say India has given a ten years lead to China in terms of economic activities in Myanmar. Idealistic foreign policy prevented India to cooperate with Myanmar's military Junta for many years. Myanmar's had poor relation with China too as China supported communist insurgents in Myanmar against its military government. However, the relation started improving since late 80s and Myanmar today can cope with global sanction with the help of China. Probably it is China's presence in India's backyard that woke up India. Late is better than never. At least today India understands that. "You can't shove democracy to anyone's mouth" and " It is better to think about national interest rather than attempting to receive SHABASI from international community" Moreover, when we cry for democratic right for people of any nation, putting sanction on it is a act of hypocrisy as it affects common people most.

Today, India is forth largest trading partner of Myanmar and annual trade is about to touch $1 Bn mark soon. At the same time Myanmar has given a new hope for our land-locked states of North East. India and Myanmar has agreed to Kaladan Project. More than $100 mn is to be spent to develop Sittwe port in Myanmar and to build up road link up to Mizoram state of India. Essar group of India has already started work there. Goods from Indian ports can be shipped to Sittwe port and then to Paletwa up the Kaladan River (up to this place the river is navigable). From Paletwa a road will connect Mizoram. This project not only gives Landlocked N-E states a link to sea route, it will help Myanmar to earn huge revenue and to create employment opportunity. Sittwe port can give China a easy access to sea-route and India via Myanmar. So India-China-Myanmar all are going to be benefited by this project. This new route is certainly little longer than the route via Chitagang in Bangladesh, but still it will cut transportation cost to trade with N-E immensely. And India must negotiate with China to use this port to lessen its dependence on Bangladesh (it will cut flow of goods to Chitagang also)which will ultimately reduce the bargaining power of Bangladesh.



India must consider substituting total energy need of N-E by transporting natural gas directly to North-East from Myanmar rather than trying to build pipeline through unreliable Bangladesh. Indian state of Tripura also has natural gas reserve but today it does not have market in its backyard. But we can expect in coming days a booming economy in N-E, where gas from Tripura and Myanmar will meet the energy need.

Today Mayanmar government is slowly yielding for democracy. India should fully cooperate with them and also with China and build up this region a connecting point of two Asian giants. We can expect economic growth will help the people of Myanmar to achieve democratic rights as a natural process. At the same time our N-E will grow to its full potential thus helping to abate insurgency.

Last but not least, we must not forget the behavior we have received from East Pakistan. We must invest enough in Myanmar and cooperate with them as well as cut flow of goods to Chitagang from China so that Bangladesh remains insignificant until they come out of their paronia.
 

amoy

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But India can not have much expectation from her regarding economic cooperation as such cooperation with India often translated as a sacrifice of sovereignty by people of Bangladesh, specially by the Khaleda led BNP and surely affects vote bank of Hasina
Why is BNP not favoured by B in particular? Is it because it's a 'Hindu' party while B is Muslim??
"You can't shove democracy to anyone's mouth" and " It is better to think about national interest rather than attempting to receive SHABASI from international community" Moreover, when we cry for democratic right for people of any nation, putting sanction on it is a act of hypocrisy as it affects common people most.
Most states in the region have not even achieved the most basic HUMAN RIGHTS - freedom from STARVATION. China is far more intimate with Myanmar than India
China was now Myanmar's third largest trading partner and investor. In 2009, bilateral trade totaled 2.907 billion U.S. dollars. Up to January 2010, China's investment in Myanmar amounted to 1.848 billion dollars, accounting for 11.5 percent of Myanmar's total foreign investment.

In recent years, the two sides had expanded cooperation in hydropower, energy, mining, communications, fishery, manufacturing and infrastructure, and there had been frequent exchanges in culture, news and sports
and
The growing commitments are a testament to China's pragmatic approach to commercial diplomacy and underscore its interest in maintaining Myanmar's political status quo.

China's Myanmar investments focus mainly on energy and natural resources, which are required in ever-larger quantities to fuel its fast-expanding industrialization and urbanization. Chinese projects range from hydropower dams to the highly ambitious and controversial Shwe Gas pipeline that is projected to cross the length of Myanmar to transport fuel to China's landlocked southern Yunnan province.

That particular project is designed to open access for China to the Indian Ocean for some fuel shipments and circumvent the congested Strait of Malacca, through which over 70% of its current oil and gas imports travel. Beijing has expressed strategic concerns that in a conflict the United States could block the strait and starve the Chinese economy of fuel imports.

India and Thailand also aggressively jockey for access to the resources of neighbor Myanmar, in contrast to US and Europe, which subject the country to strict trade and investment sanctions in protest against its rulers' abysmal rights record. Those curbs were recently augmented by so-called "smart sanctions" aimed at hitting the private resources of senior junta members and their top business associates.

The growing scale of China's commitments have the potential to provide huge profits for the regime, funds which historically have been employed to buy weaponry that is used to suppress the democratic and ethnic opposition. Some economic analysts estimate the regime has in recent years earned US$3.5 billion in natural gas sales alone.

China's investment in Myanmar's oil and gas reserves is on the rise. EarthRights International identified 21 Chinese-funded onshore and offshore oil and natural gas projects, including the Shwe Gas project in Arakan state and newer blocks in Sagaing division. China is also reportedly interested in using Kyaukpyu Island off Arakan state as a transshipment point for Middle Eastern oil and gas imports, which will then be piped up through Myanmar to China's Yunnan province.

A $1 billion contract has been signed between the Myanmar government and China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation, or Sinopec, to build a first oil pipeline. A parallel gas pipeline is expected to follow. A memorandum of understanding has also been signed between China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) for an assessment on the construction of a crude oil terminal.

Chinese partners are also involved in the gigantic 7,100-megawatt Tasang Dam on the Salween river in Shan state, while other dams on the N'Mai Hka, Mali Hka and Irrawaddy rivers in Kachin state are being built to provide electricity to Yunnan. According to EarthRights Internation, the Kachin state dams are expected to have a combined capacity of 13,360 megawatts.
 
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AkhandBharat

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Bangladesh as a nation is most susceptible to climate changes, and is a red flag for the administration of India. These people have already setup bases and camps in Indian territory and now threaten the local people there. India needs to urgently deploy additional BSF forces around the bangladeshi border to stop these infiltrants, who pose a serious security risk and the exponential rise in the population of bangladesh is straining the nation to its limits. Some pakistani think tanks argue that they won't take bangladesh back now, even if it was given to them, the situation is that bad. Myanmar on the other hand is rich in resources, is more amicable towards India ever since we started investing there, so it is pretty logical that we need to take our relations with Myanmar to the next level. It will help us in our quest for resources and will keep Bangladesh in check.
 

Oracle

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Why is BNP not favoured by B in particular? Is it because it's a 'Hindu' party while B is Muslim??
BNP is favored by radical Bangladeshis. BNP(Bangladesh Nationalist Party) is currently led by Begum Khaleda Zia, and is not a Hindu party. BNP has ties with Jamaat-e-Islami, which makes it more radical.
 

Oracle

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As about the original post - we should not let Bangladesh off the hook. We have a friendly government there in Bangladesh and it is time to take relations to a new level. We certainly do not want another Pakistan in our east.
 

Sabir

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After Independence India used to get transit to its N-E through east Pakistan which was stopped after 65 war. Bangldesh government never tried to restore that route fearing anti-India sentiment of the population. They could have earned huge revenues by providing India access to N-E, but their stubbornness has forced India to look for an alternative.

Once AL is gone from power there will be no security of Indian investment in BD. Better we invest our resources in countries which are pragmatic.
 
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macintosh

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Once AL is gone from power there will be no security of Indian investment in BD. Better we invest our resources in countries which are pragmatic.
Well no since there will be an agreement wherein BD would get access to Nepal,Bhutan in return for providing access to NE through BD. Moreover there have been talks of connecting China with BD through NE so BD will also lose in case of violating the compact.
 

Yusuf

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In international politics, no one can be dispensed with or traded for another. That is what diplomacy is all about. Just like Kissinger can curse Ms G behind her back but then sing paens in front of her.
 

anoop_mig25

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Why is BNP not favoured by B in particular? Is it because it's a 'Hindu' party while B is Muslim??
what has hindu muslims to do with it? BNP as u know did n`t had full majority in Bangladesh at that time had to form alliance with various parties including Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh which is leading in anti-india party.
 

anoop_mig25

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why do n`t indian gov buy some part of land from bangladesh along the Siliguri corridor
 

Armand2REP

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India should invest in both relationships because China is trying to encircle India, much the same as US is doing to China.
 

Oracle

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After Independence India used to get transit to its N-E through east Pakistan which was stopped after 65 war. Bangldesh government never tried to restore that route fearing anti-India sentiment of the population. They could have earned huge revenues by providing India access to N-E, but their stubbornness has forced India to look for an alternative.

Once AL is gone from power there will be no security of Indian investment in BD. Better we invest our resources in countries which are pragmatic.
A simple example. Say Indian Corporates invests $10 Billion in Bangladesh for 'X'. Now say this generates employment to 'Y' number of people. With more in trade, this will create more employments for Bangladeshis in certain time. Now, if AL comes to power, they will not try to back off from deals signed by the previous Govt, which if they do will in turn create a sudden unemployment for a certain section of Bangladeshis, no? This will create resentment among the people against the AL. Having said that, I would also like to add that this is my personal opinion.

Also a couple of billions of dollars mean nothing when it comes to foreign policy and improving relations with other countries. If it works, well good. If not, let's forget it as a nightmare.
 

Sabir

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It is easier to get large number of votes through anti-Indian propaganda rather than originally benefiting people thorough employment.
 

amoy

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Bangldesh government never tried to restore that route fearing anti-India sentiment of the population.
It's understandable a dominant neighbor with historical entanglements makes B on the alert. But it was Ind who made E. Pak an independent Bangladesh. And B is in 'historical' affinity with Ind. In real life B is so much looking up to Ind in economy and geopolitics. Then why has the anti-Ind sentiment got so prevailing that B politicians have to bend for it despite the 'revenue' available ?

To be frank with 'political incorrectness' B seems a 'loser' in many ways (force majeur - monsoon, flood. and population growth, and so-called 'democracy'...). In contrast in our neighborhood Myanmar is a very promising country, and so is N. Korea (given their geo location, natural resources, discipline of people...). 'Democracy' is a luxury for countries where even illiteracy or starvation overwhelms...
 
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Sabir

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It is East Pakistan since Partition........just a brief honeymoon after their independence in 70s. I am a Bengali and have many distant relatives in BD. They still carry the hatred that dived the country. But it is a fact that there constant nagging has become irritating.
 

amoy

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They still carry the hatred that dived the country. But it is a fact that there constant nagging has become irritating.
What drives that 'hatred'? explain pls.

to an outsider like me it's puzzling. Water dispute?? or territorial?
 

Rage

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It's understandable a dominant neighbor with historical entanglements makes B on the alert. But it was Ind who made E. Pak an independent Bangladesh. And B is in 'historical' affinity with Ind. In real life B is so much looking up to Ind in economy and geopolitics. Then why has the anti-Ind sentiment got so prevailing that B politicians have to bend for it despite the 'revenue' available ?

To be frank with 'political incorrectness' B seems a 'loser' in many ways (force majeur - monsoon, flood. and population growth, and so-called 'democracy'...). In contrast in our neighborhood Myanmar is a very promising country, and so is N. Korea (given their geo location, natural resources, discipline of people...). 'Democracy' is a luxury for countries where even illiteracy or starvation overwhelms...
I wouldn't call Myanmar a promising country by any standards.

Sure, they have a promising location and untapped natural resources, but they have had those for the last 62 years, only to remain untapped by successive military coups.

Their economy is a fraction of Bangladesh's: $28 billion in contrast to about $94 billion. I suspect the misconception, as with India, comes from a reading of the 'visible poverty' in the region.

With respect to Bd and India, the animosity may be rooted in some unequal treaties, though from my understanding, we have never failed to oblige those. There have also been some vocal pan-Islamist groups that have furthered the idea of an Islamist union against a predominantly Hindu India, and have gained some legitimacy in the eyes of the Bangladeshis by the Hindu-Muslim riots that have happened in India. At least, with the common man this seems to be the case.

There is also a sense of 'entitlement' the Bangladeshis feel toward Indian territory, as if they may live and work here, illegaly, even though they are their own distinct nation, and a sense of indigence when we fire at border-crossers or deport illegal immigrants. The issue has been a thorn in the side of both countries.

On the other hand, the Indian government has failed to seize the initiative in bringing over the Bangladeshis to our side. For all this talk of 'soft power', the Government has been inept in engaging the minds and hearts of the Bangladeshis. They have traditionally preferred hard-power alternatives of installing a favourable government, securing members of the political and intelligence community and business-business relationships, which in the absence of a decent infrastructure, particularly on the Bangladeshi side but also on the Indian, is limited in scope.
 
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SHASH2K2

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Politically Bangladesh is not very important country but Economically they are very important . We should try to have more and more operations there . It not bad if we don't have business interests there but if this inactivity allows China to gain influence thats going to be very bad for us.
 

amoy

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Bangladesh to persuade China to use Chittagong port
DHAKA
Sun Mar 14, 2010 8:25pm IST File photo of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during a news conference in Dhaka December 31, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Biraj/Files

DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh will persuade China to use Chittagong port as a commercial outlet for its southern Yunnan province, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said on Sunday.

South Asia

The Bangladesh stance was announced nearly three months after Bangladesh had agreed to allow India, Nepal and Bhutan to use its two sea ports mainly Chittagong port.

"It will be a great achievement if China agrees to use our Chittagong port, which we want to develop into a regional commercial hub by building a deep seaport in the Bay of Bengal," she told a news conference.

The offer for Chittagong port to Beijing will be discussed when Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visits China from Wednesday on a five-day itinerary, Moni said.

The impoverished south Asian country has taken plans to build an $8.7 billion deep-sea port in three phases to raise bulk cargo handling capacity to 100 million tonnes and container handling to 3.0 million twenty-feet equivalent unit (TEU) containers annually by 2055.

Presently the port handles 30.5 million tonnes of bulk cargo and 1.1 million TEUs annually.

Port officials said when built the port would serve Nepal, Bhutan, southern China, Myanmar and the northeastern region of India.

To use Chittagong port China will need a road or railway link or both between Kunming, the capital of southern Yunnan province with Chittagong via Myanmar, Moni said.

Myanmar last year had agreed to expand a planned road project with Bangladesh to link up with China in a tri-nation network, another foreign ministry official said.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a deal in July 2007 to construct a 25 km (16 mile) road to connect the two countries and construction will begin soon, officials at the Communication Ministry said.

The road project between Myanmar and Bangladesh is nearing completion, a senior foreign ministry official said on Sunday.

Chinese investment for Bangladesh's energy and IT sectors, boosting trade and seeking assistance for building a $9 billion deep seaport and a $2.5 billion river bridge will be on top of Hasina's agenda.

China is Bangladesh's biggest trade partner with annual turnover worth more than $4 billion -- with the balance heavily in Beijing's favour.

After bilateral talks with her Chinese counterpart and signing of probable agreements for financial assistance, Hasina will visit Kunming on March 20.
 

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