'China wants countries in South Asia to improve ti

Beijing: As India and Bangladesh resolved a long-standing border problem during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Dhaka visit, China today said it would like to see countries in South Asia improve their ties and build mutual trust.

India and Bangladesh are important countries in South Asia, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu told a media briefing here, answering a question on Singh's visit to Bangladesh and the agreements reached between the two sides.

She said China would like to see countries in South Asia improve their bilateral ties as well as build mutual trust and make joint efforts to maintain peace, stability and development in the region.

India and Bangladesh yesterday resolved a long-standing border problem, signing a historic agreement on demarcation of land boundary and exchange of 162 adversely-held enclaves, but failed to sign any deal on sharing of Teesta and Feni rivers' waters during Singh's maiden visit to Dhaka.

Singh's visit to Dhaka was being closely watched here as China too had made strong efforts to woo Bangladesh with a host of projects, including the offer to develop the strategic Chittagong port which Dhaka wanted to turn into a commercial hub.

China, which is constructing a network of oil pipelines and roads through Myanmar, evinced an interest in extending it to Chittagong to gain access to the platform in the Indian Ocean for energy supplies.

Many Indian analysts described China's attempts to develop Chittagong port as well as those situated in Myanmar and Sri Lanka as a long-term strategy to "encircle" India with a "string of pearls," a claim denounced by their Chinese counterparts as "Indian paranoia."

Singh's visit to Bangladesh, especially the last-minute postponement of signing of an accord on water-sharing of Teesta and Feni rivers, was widely reported in the print and TV media here.

"Water-sharing deal not expected to be signed" was the headline in the state-run Global Times daily, while the official CCTV carried an interview with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's adviser, who expressed serious reservations over the failure of the two sides to sign the water accord.