Global Economy

Maltreatment of locals in Chinese funded projects cast a shadow over Beijing’s FDI in Bangladesh

The treatment of local workers in Bangladesh by Chinese companies and Chinese nationals is casting a shadow over the slew of Beijing funded projects in the fast-growing South Asian economy and may even hurt Chinese FDI in the country in the medium to long run.

The Bangladeshi security establishment in a startling report earlier this month has alleged that Chinese nationals involved with the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project have been physically and mentally and even financially harassing the local Bangladeshi labour leading to quarrels. The report is of opinion that the Chinese nationals might incur wrath of the locals which will in turn adversely impact China’s FDI in the country.

The Chinese nationals on this project are also alleged to be involved in embezzlement. China Railway Engineering Corporation is part of the project. The appointment of the firm’s representative, a Chinese national, was cancelled by the Bangladesh government for his inefficient handling of the project. In May 2020, some locals at this project were also shot at following demand of their dues. This led to further protests.

The Padma Bridge Rail Link Project is not the only Chinese venture that is mistreating the locals in Bangladesh. Many of these projects are acquired through fraudulent methods including bribery and corruption, ET has reliably learnt.

In April of this year five workers were killed and 11 others injured in an under-construction coal fired power plant in Chittagong. The project is a joint venture between Shandong Electric Power Corporation and S Alam Group of Bangladesh. The workers had demonstrated against long hours and overdue of payments, sources informed.

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The Sheikh Hasina government is either cancelling or putting on hold certain Chinese projects due to the fraudulent manner in which these projects were obtained. One such project is expansion of the runway in Cox Bazar in Chittagong. Fake experience certificates were produced to obtain contract according to a probe by the Hasina government.

In Dhaka local workers have en masse quit from a Chinese EXIM Bank funded project — Dasherkhandi Sewage Treatment Plant. Locals clashed with the Chinese nationals demanding quarantine for the Chinese workers amid pandemic, sources from Dhaka informed.

Earlier in 2019 clashes were reported from the Payra power plant due to callous attitude of Chinese managers at the project. Casualties and injuries were reported from the project sote. In 2016, four locals were killed in a firing at a Chinese funded power project in Banskhali. Besides, Chinese run illegal battery factories are a big hazard as a fire incident in Dhaka this July showed.


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