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Dhaka, Seoul snub China's claim on Padma Bridge in Bangladesh

China claimed Bangladesh's $3.6 billion newly-constructed multi-purpose bridge project was part of its Belt and Road Initiative

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Bangladesh politely put China in its place when the latter tried to usurp its $3.6 billion newly-constructed multi-purpose bridge project as part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Now, South Korea has also stepped in to tacitly counter the false claims made by Xi Jingping’s ‘middle-kingdom’, further exposing the hollowness of Chinese propaganda blitzkrieg in the region.

Shortly after the Bangladesh government dismissed China’s bid to project the bridge over the country’s mighty river Padma, as part of its BRI, South Korea came forward to emphasise its role in the project, clearly snubbing Chinese attempts to claim the entire credit for the construction of the bridge.

Also read: With Padma Bridge, Bangladesh’s Iron Lady Sheikh Hasina makes a statement to the world

“Korea is very happy to take part in this very proud history-making project. A Korean company, Korea Expressway Corporation has supervised the construction process of the Padma Bridge and this company will also be in charge of the operation and maintenance of the bridge,” Lee Jang-keun, the South Korean ambassador to Bangladesh, told a Bangladesh news agency.

Korea has been and will be with Bangladesh in its grand journey towards realising its “dreams of prosperity, peace and humanity,” the United News of Bangladesh quoted the Korean envoy as saying.

India’s line of credit

Even India’s over $8 billion line of credit to Bangladesh for connectivity and other development projects also fall in the cooperation category, pointed out sources in India’s diplomatic circle.

Without naming anyone, Bangladesh foreign ministry had earlier refuted the Chinese media claims that the project is a part of the BRI.

“It has come to the attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that some quarters are trying to portray that the Padma Multipurpose Bridge, which is scheduled to be inaugurated on June 25, by the Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been constructed with the assistance of foreign funds and is a part of the Belt and Road Initiative,” the statement said taking serious note of the reports in Chinese media.

It clarified that the project “has been entirely funded by the Government of Bangladesh” and no “bilateral or multilateral funding agency has financially contributed to its construction.”

“Both Bangladeshi and foreign construction firms were engaged for the implementation of the project,” the statement added.

Also read: Bangladesh’s snub to China: A lesson for other nations in the subcontinent

The 6.15 km long multipurpose two-level steel bind bridge with a four-lane highway on the upper deck and a single-track railway on the lower, is considered as an engineering marvel, and its 128 meters deep piling is the deepest in the world.

Pama link project

The Padma rail link project that will pass through the bridge will become a sub-route of the proposed trans-Asian railway network. The US$3.6 billion project will link the south-western part of Bangladesh with the country’s northern and eastern regions.

After being operationalised, it is likely to boost the GDP of the south-western part of the country by 2.5 percent and will increase the country’s overall GDP growth by 1.23 percent per annum.

China’s Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group, a state-owned entity, had constructed the bridge. Bangladesh’s Information Minister Hasan Mahmud said the Chinese company was awarded the construction work after a due process of global tendering.

Earlier, the Bangladesh-China Silk Road Forum and the Embassy of China in Dhaka announced that they will hold an event titled “The Padma Bridge: An Example of Bangladesh-China cooperation under Belt and Road Initiative” on June 22. And, that this event will be attended by the Chinese envoy.

Bangladesh’s tacit snub to China assumes regional significance as Beijing is the biggest trading partner of India’s eastern neighbour.

“The Ministry of External Affairs earnestly hopes that all friends of Bangladesh will join hands in celebrating the completion of the landmark project, which is all the more special since it has been done entirely by the contribution of the people and the Government of Bangladesh,” the Dhaka’s carefully crafted statement further stated sending out the message that it would not allow any particular country to steal its thunder.

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