Declaring to the Chinese Premier that Bangladesh would be “an active partner” in a “China-led Asian century,” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has underlined her willingness to deepen her country’s strategic and economic engagement with China, signing major agreements for the construction of roads, railway lines and power plants on a three-day visit to the Chinese capital.

Ms. Hasina, who met President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, also discussed with Beijing the construction of a second deep-sea port off the Cox’s Bazar coast at Sonadia — China is already involved in a port project at Chittagong — that will give China further access to the Indian Ocean, and an alternative route for energy imports.

While Ms. Hasina has pledged to boost ties with India, even reaching out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a congratulatory letter following his electoral victory, her reported reference to being an “active partner” in a “China-led” century in her meeting with Premier Li is likely to be noticed in New Delhi.

Ms. Hasina’s remarks were reported by the official China Daily newspaper in a front page article, and also carried by the Bangladeshi national news agency.

Five deals signed

The two countries this week signed five deals, including for Chinese assistance for the construction of a power plant in Patuakhali and building a multi-lane road tunnel under the Karnaphuli river.

The two sides are yet to reach an agreement on the Sonadia port project, which is, however, likely to take off soon, Chinese experts believe.

Mr. Xi described Bangladesh as an important country along the “maritime silk road” project that he has been championing, which envisages deepening connectivity, building ports and free trade zones, and boosting trade with littoral countries in the Indian Ocean region and in Southeast Asia.

China laid out a red carpet welcome for Ms. Hasina — on her third visit here — with the state media giving prominent coverage to her meetings with the President and Premier. Both leaders pledged to step up financial assistance and involvement in infrastructure projects in Bangladesh, a commitment readily welcomed by the Bangladeshi Prime Minister.