China has made it a 32-year custom that its Foreign Minister’s first foreign trip of the year is always to Africa. However, this year Qin Gang broke this tradition by stopping en route in Dhaka for a brief meeting with his Bangladeshi counterpart at the airport.
As Shannon Tiezzi points out in a column in The Diplomat, this is highly unusual and could reveal a tight spot in China-Bangladesh relations. Key factors include a massive trade deficit as Bangladesh’s foreign reserves suffer under the Ukraine war and ongoing disputes with China’s ally Myanmar about the Rohingya refugee crisis. Whatever the reason, it made for some awkward symbolism:
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