Jaishankar Asks Bangladesh FM to Rethink Impractical Projects

  • Charvi

Date: 21 February 2022

On Saturday, i.e., 19 February 2022, Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, asked at the Munich Security Conference, if the Quad countries can offer financial assistance similar to that offered by China. Responding to him, India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said, “Countries seeking loans should worry about unsustainable infrastructure projects such as airports and ports that are empty”. 

Foreign Minister of Bangladesh was in the audience while Mr. Jaishankar along with the Foreign Ministers of France, Australia and Japan, as well as senior U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen were the panelists at the conference.

Implicitly referring to the debt situation in Sri Lanka, Mr. Jaishankar said, “We have seen now countries including in our region being saddled with large debts. We have seen projects which are commercially unsustainable: airports where an aircraft doesn’t come, harbours where a ship doesn’t come”. 

In Sri Lanka, there have been concerns over the Hambantota port and the Mattala airport, both originally developed with Chinese loans, which Sri Lanka struggled to pay back, eventually having to hand over the port on a 99-year lease to a Chinese company. Illustrating the problem further, Mr. Jaishankar said, “It’s obviously in the interest of the consumer country concerned, but it’s also in the interest of the international community because unsustainable projects don’t end there. Often the next is, debt becomes equity, and that becomes something else.”

Replying to queries on Indo- Pak relationship, Mr. Jaishankar said, India’s ties with China were going through a “difficult phase”, adding that the state of the relationship stemmed from “the state of the border”, and China’s transgressions along the Line of Actual Control since April 2020. 

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