Online Courses (English)
This just in:

State PCS

Daily Updates

International Relations

Chinese Involvement in Teesta River

  • 21 Aug 2020
  • 7 min read

Why in News

Bangladesh is likely to receive an almost USD 1 billion loan from China for a comprehensive management and restoration project on the Teesta river.

Teesta River

  • It is a tributary of the Brahmaputra (known as Jamuna in Bangladesh), flowing through India and Bangladesh.
  • Origin: In the Himalayas near Chunthang, Sikkim and flows to the south through West Bengal before entering Bangladesh.
  • Drainage: It covers nearly the entire floodplains of Sikkim while draining 2,800 sq km of Bangladesh. For West Bengal, it is the lifeline of half-a-dozen districts in North Bengal.
  • Latest Development: In March 2020, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) opened a 360 feet long bailey suspension bridge over Teesta river in Munshithang, Sikkim.

Key Points

  • About the Project: The management and restoration project is aimed at managing the river basin efficiently, controlling floods and tackling the water crisis in Bangladesh in summers.
  • India-Bangladesh Teesta Dispute:
    • Bangladesh sought a fair and equitable distribution of Teesta waters from India, on the lines of the Ganga Water Treaty 1996.
      • The treaty is an agreement to share surface waters at the Farakka Barrage near their mutual border.
    • In 2015, the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Dhaka generated expectations to take forward the issue but it still remains unresolved.
      • In India, individual states have significant influence over transboundary agreements, impeding the policymaking process.
      • West Bengal is one of the key stakeholders of the Teesta agreement and is yet to endorse the deal.

Bangladesh-China Relations

  • China is the biggest trading partner of Bangladesh and is the foremost source of imports with the trade heavily favouring China.
    • In 2019, the trade between the two countries was USD 18 billion.
  • China declared zero duty on 97% of imports from Bangladesh recently and the move has been widely welcomed in Bangladesh.
    • The concession comes from China’s duty-free, quota-free programme for the least developed countries.
  • China has promised around USD 30 billion worth of financial assistance to Bangladesh.
  • China is the biggest arms supplier to Bangladesh which has been a matter of legacy, strengthening the defence ties.
    • After the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, officers of the Pakistan Army joined the Bangladesh Army and preferred Chinese weapons because they were well-versed with them.
    • As a result, Bangladesh forces are equipped with Chinese arms including tanks, missile launchers, fighter aircraft and several weapons systems.

India-Bangladesh Relations

  • Both countries enjoy a robust relationship with each other carefully cultivated since 2008, especially with the Sheikh Hasina government.
  • Bangladesh’s crackdown against anti-India outfits has helped the Indian government maintain peace in the eastern and Northeast states.
  • Bangladesh is India’s biggest trade partner in South Asia and the economic and development partnership has benefitted it.
    • In 2018-19, India’s exports and imports with Bangladesh stood at USD 9.21 billion and USD 1.04 billion respectively.
  • India also grants 15 to 20 lakh visas every year to Bangladesh nationals for medical treatment, tourism, work and just entertainment.
  • India has provided developmental assistance worth USD 10 billion, making Bangladesh the largest recipient of India’s total of USD 30 billion aid globally.
  • For India, Bangladesh has been a key partner in the Neighbourhood First Policy.
  • Both have cooperated on pandemic-related moves and India has provided medical aid to Bangladesh.
    • Bangladesh supported India’s call for a regional (SAARC) emergency fund for fighting Covid-19 and declared a contribution of USD 1.5 million in March 2020.
    • Bangladesh is ready to collaborate in the development of a Covid-19 vaccine, including its trial and looks forward to the early and affordable availability of the vaccine.
  • The first trial run for trans-shipment of Indian cargo through Bangladesh to Northeast states under a pact on the use of Chittagong and Mongla ports took place in July 2020.
  • However, the proposed countrywide National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019 have irritated the relations.
    • Bangladesh has expressed reservations about CAA and has held it unnecessary.
  • Bangladesh has expressed concerns at the rise in killings at the Indo-Bangladesh border by the Border Security Force (BSF).
  • Indian Foreign Secretary has recently visited Dhaka to discuss “security-related issues of mutual interest” while trying to address the potential irritant issues.
    • There was an agreement on timely implementation of projects and greater attention to development projects in Bangladesh under the Indian Lines of Credit.
    • Bangladesh has requested to reopen travel through Benapole-Petrapole land port which has been halted by the West Bengal government in the wake of the pandemic.

Way Forward

  • In the wake of the Ladakh standoff, India needs to become even more sensitive to Chinese defence inroads into Bangladesh.
  • The Teesta project is important and urgent from India’s point of view, so it is crucial to solve it as soon as possible.
  • India has to implement all its assurances in a time-bound manner otherwise the latent anti-India sentiment in Bangladesh threatens to damage the friendly ties.

Source: IE

SMS Alerts

Please login or register to view note list


Please login or register to list article as bookmarked


Please login or register to make your note


Please login or register to list article as progressed


Please login or register to list article as bookmarked