Xi Jinping arrives in Bangladesh with generous investment plans

Xi is the first Chinese President to visit Bangladesh in 30 years.

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China's President Xi Jinping claps during the closing ceremony of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, China, March 14, 2016.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is arriving in Bangladesh on Friday with a daunting investment kitty, aiming to entrench its foothold in a region rival India considers a sphere of influence.

Bangladeshi media said Beijing could commit more than $23 billion for the next five years under many separate agreements to be signed between high-ranking Chinese and Bangladeshi officials.

Xi is the first Chinese President to visit Bangladesh in 30 years while Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited China twice since she returned to power in 2009.

"This visit reflects the symbol of Bangladesh-China friendship... It'll set in a historic new journey through opening up a new horizon in the two countries' economic relations," bangaldesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali said.

Nervous New Delhi

Bangladesh is wooed by India, Japan and China, and Beijing has given higher priority to diplomatic and economic partnership with the impoverished nation straddling Asia and Southeast Asia.

Dhaka has rolled out a red carpet welcome to Chinese investments by establishing two economic zones to Chinese investors in Gazaria and Anwara of Chittagong.

Bangladesh newspapers said the investments to be signed during Xi's two-day visit include those in infrastructure, energy and power, transportation, communication and establishment of economic and industrial zones.

Dhaka's rising bonhomie with Beijing is viewed with concern in New Delhi, which is closely observing the outcome of the Chinese president's historic visit. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Bangladesh in June.

Modi had last year announced a $2 billion credit line for Dhaka, but the Chinese investment would clearly dwarf that.

"We are trying to figure out how much deeper relations between Dhaka and Beijing will go ... The Chinese president's visit is taking place after the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 6-7 last year, so we have an interest to see what China offers Bangladesh," an Indian diplomat in New Delhi said, according to the Daily Star.

Apart from the projects already agreed bilaterally, Bangladesh hopes Xi would make bigger pledges that affirm the partnership between the two courtiers.

Padma rail project

It is expected that Beijing will extend up to $6.64 billion in funds for five projects involving in Bangladesh's underdeveloped rail sector. A 172km Padma rail link is one of the flagshiop orojects where Dhaka expects Chinese investment.

China is already one of the biggest trading partners for Bangladesh. The trade between the two countries was worth $10.45 billion in 2015-2016.

In an article published in daily Star, Xi said china highly values the relations with Bangladesh. "Since the establishment of diplomatic ties 41 years ago, China has always regarded Bangladesh as its true friend and partner for development," Xi wrote.

"China stands ready to offer more assistance and support to Bangladesh to the best of its capability, enhance mutual assistance and cooperation with Bangladesh in areas such as disaster prevention and mitigation, vocational training, medical and health-care services, climate change and women and children..." the president said.