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China praises Bangladesh PM Hasina for refusing to permit foreign air base

Without naming any country, Hasina, 76, on Sunday said that she was offered a hassle-free re-election in the January 7 polls if she allowed a foreign country to build an airbase inside Bangladeshi territory.
Last Updated : 28 May 2024, 15:31 IST
Last Updated : 28 May 2024, 15:31 IST

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Beijing: China on Tuesday praised Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her decision to deny permission for a foreign military base, commending it as a reflection of the Bangladeshi people's strong national spirit and commitment to independence.

Without naming any country, Hasina, 76, on Sunday said that she was offered a hassle-free re-election in the January 7 polls if she allowed a foreign country to build an airbase inside Bangladeshi territory.

Hasina, ruling the strategically located South Asian nation since 2009, secured a fifth overall term in the one-sided election in January, which was boycotted by the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) led by former prime minister Khalida Zia.

"If I allowed a certain country to build an airbase in Bangladesh, then I would have had no problem," The Daily Star Bangladesh newspaper quoted Hasina as saying.

Replying to a question on Hasina's remarks at a media briefing here, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said, “China has noted Prime Minister Hasina's speech, which reflects the national spirit of the Bangladeshi people to be independent and not afraid of external pressure.”

Though the Bangladesh prime minister did not name the country that had made the offer to her, she emphasised that the "offer came from a White man”.

Mao said some countries seek their own selfish interests, openly trade other countries' elections, brutally interfere in other countries' internal affairs, undermine regional security and stability, and fully expose their hegemonic, bullying nature.

The spokesperson said China firmly supports Bangladesh in safeguarding its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.

Beijing firmly supports Dhaka in pursuing an independent foreign policy and opposing external interference, and "jointly" maintaining regional peace, stability, development and prosperity, Mao said.

China, which has invested over USD 25 billion in various projects in Bangladesh, next highest after Pakistan in the South Asian region, has also steadily enhanced defence ties with Bangladesh supplying a host of military equipment, including battle tanks, naval frigates, missile boats besides fighter jets, much to the chagrin of India.

China had earlier also provided two submarines to the Bangladesh navy.

Last year, Prime Minister Hasina opened a $1.21 billion submarine base built by China at Cox's Bazar off the Bay of Bengal coast which will provide safe jetty facilities to submarines and warships, according to Bangladesh media reports.

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Published 28 May 2024, 15:31 IST

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