India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina. Photo: Reuters, Rafiqur Rahman

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina arrived in India on Friday for a four-day state visit, during which the two countries are expected to sign more than 25 bilateral agreements.

Deutsche Welle spoke with Constantino Xavier of the New Dehli-based think tank Carnegie India on the trip’s significance for India-Bangladesh relations.

As China’s influence extends west with the One Belt, One Road initiative, India sees Bangladesh as a key piece of its own Act East initiative, and an opportunity to balance China’s growing influence. India hopes to make the Bay of Bengal region a hub connecting South Asia with Myanmar and the rest of Southeast Asia.

Xavier notes that the two countries’ relations are at an all-time high, and the US$500 million line of credit expected from India will continue to pull the countries closer.

But, despite Xavier’s optimism about the prospects for India’s influence in the country, China’s pockets are deep, and Bangladesh will likely benefit more from playing China and India off each other, rather than cosying up too closely with one side or the other.