Bangladesh on Sunday dismissed reports of links between a newly built road bridge and China’s multibillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, saying the country’s longest bridge was fully funded by the government and no foreign funds had not been used for its construction.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is due to inaugurate the nearly 10-kilometre-long Padma Bridge on June 25, a structure that would connect the southwestern region of Bangladesh by road to the capital Dhaka and other parts of the country.
“It (the bridge) is not related to the BRI, nor did Bangladesh take any foreign funds to build the structure,” a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a multi-billion dollar project launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping when he came to power in 2013. It aims to connect Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes.
The Foreign Ministry’s reaction came after a group called “Bangladesh-China Silk Road Forum” announced last week that it would organize a panel discussion on “Padma Bridge: An Example of Cooperation between Bangladesh and China under the Belt and Road Initiative on June 22.
Hours after the group handed out invitation letters to the media, the Foreign Office issued a statement refuting the bridge’s connection to the BRI, urging organizers to postpone their planned discussion until the following day.
The group had said leaders representing different Bangladeshi political parties, including the ruling Awami League, and the Chinese envoy to Dhaka, as well as other officials would attend the event.
“It has come to the attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that some are trying to show that the Padma Multipurpose Bridge was built with the help of foreign funds and is part of the Belt and Road Initiative,” said the foreign office statement.
The statement claimed that the Padma Multi-Purpose Bridge was fully funded by the Government of Bangladesh and “no foreign funds from any other bilateral or multilateral funding agency” had contributed to its construction.
However, he said foreign and Bangladeshi construction companies were engaged in the implementation of the project and that the completion of the bridge ‘would fulfill the nation’s long-cherished dream of linking the 19 southwestern districts with the rest of the country”.
The Foreign Ministry said the bridge would pave the way for “collective prosperity, socio-economic development in Bangladesh as well as improved regional connectivity”.
A spokesman for the Chinese Embassy, meanwhile, told a select group of reporters in Dhaka that the bridge was built entirely with Bangladeshi funds, adding that: “We are proud that a construction company China was involved in the construction of the Padma Bridge”.
“The company (China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Corporation) which had built a bridge over our mother river (the Yellow River) decades ago has built the first longest such bridge (over the Padma) outside of China “, did he declare.
(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)