Chinese President Xi Jinping landed in Bangladesh on Friday (14 October) in a landmark visit and is set to ink a loan agreement worth $24bn (£19bn) with Dhaka. He is the first Chinese head of state to visit the country in nearly 30 years.
In a massive boost to Bangladesh's economy, Beijing will pump in money in several infrastructure projects. Besides holding talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during the day-long visit, Xi would also join a banquet at the Bangabhaban, the presidential palace.
Bangladesh, which is a close ally of India, has reportedly made elaborate arrangements to welcome the Chinese leader, which included a 21-gun salute at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. Four Bangladeshi jets escorted the aircraft carrying the Chinese president as soon as it entered its airspace.
"We are very happy and feel honoured that President Xi is coming to Bangladesh. I believe that President Xi's visit will also be more important for South Asia (as well)," Hasina said. Xi had visited Bangladesh in 2010 when he was vice president, although a Chinese president has never visited the country in the last three decades.
On his part, Xi wrote in the leading Bangladeshi newspaper, Daily Star: "Bangladesh, with its favourable geographic location and huge population, market potential and cooperation space, is an indispensable partner for China to advance the Belt and Road initiative."
The Chinese investment, Bangladesh's biggest credit line to date, would help Bangladesh build seaports, power plants, railways and special economic zones. Dhaka had originally sought funds to the tune of $40bn.
Bangladeshi officials have repeatedly said that the Chinese financial support would not affect ties between New Delhi and Dhaka. India Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sanctioned a credit line of $2bn when he visited Bangladesh in 2015, but most certainly would not match the largesse of Beijing. Xi will also attend the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) summit scheduled to be held in Goa, India on 15 and 16 October.