China is set to sign off on loans worth over $24 billion to Bangladesh during President Xi Jinping's visit today, Dhaka's biggest foreign credit line to date that will help it build power plants, a seaport and railways.
Xi Jinping's trip, the first by a Chinese president in 30 years, is aimed at boosting China's involvement in infrastructure projects at a time when India is pushing investments of its own in Bangladesh, a country New Delhi considers its area of influence.
Japan, helped by India, has also got involved in Bangladesh, offering finance at low interest rates to build a port and power complex, sharpening competition for influence in the country of 160 million people.
China plans to finance around 25 projects, including a 1,320 megawatt (MW) power plant, and is also keen to build a deep sea port, Bangladesh junior finance minister MA Mannan said.
"Xi's visit will set a new milestone. (A) record amount of loan agreements will be signed during the visit, roughly $24 billion," he told Reuters.
Among the proposed projects are highways and information technology development, he said. "Our infrastructure needs are big, so we need huge loans."