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Bangladesh - 3 weeks ago

Which way Dhaka learning: Delhi or Beijing?

Rabiul Haque: Delhi or Beijing – who is leaning towards Dhaka? In the changed geo-political situation as well as the world reality, between the two arch-rivals of Asia, India and China, who is more attracted to Bangladesh, the friend of both, or who is more attracted to them? That question is everywhere now. Former ministers and secretaries associated with the implementation of foreign policy are speaking openly about this.
However, current incumbent ministers or professional diplomats are always wary of talking about it. They often try to present the statement of ‘Balance Foreign Policy’ of Bangladesh. However, the reality is different. Professionals also say that given the circumstances or events that have arisen, one might think from the outside that Bangladesh is leaning more towards a friendly country.
But maybe behind the scenes something different is quietly happening with other friendly countries! And through this, Dhaka is constantly trying to maintain balance. Bangladesh, which is plagued with various crises including the economy, ignored the opinion of the western world and held national elections in January.
Through which the ruling Awami League has returned to the government for the fourth consecutive term with 222 seats out of 300 seats. A record number of independent MPs who won the twelfth parliamentary elections held in the face of exclusion of opposition parties are virtually playing the role of opposition parties.
Although most of them were dummy candidates of the government. Of course, the official opposition party has been the Jatiya Party, which has won 11 seats by sharing seats with the ruling Awami League! The January 7 election, held between Western friends including the United States, Britain, and Canada, had strong support from war ally India and development ally China. Critics believe that the current government of Bangladesh is responsible for the two countries. And that is why the Prime Minister is going to visit New Delhi twice with an interval of 10 days and within a month of that visit to Beijing on the pre-fixed date of July 8.
The government hopes to get great cooperation from the two countries to overcome the various crises in Bangladesh. But what kind of assistance Bangladesh is taking from which country between India and China, the arch-rivals? There is a lot of speculation in politics as it is not all clear. Many of which are true or close to the truth given by the concerned professionals. But they try to say that Bangladesh may have deficits or limitations as aspirational power but Bangladesh is never a party to any conflicting or rivaling China-India game. As an example, they said, Bangladesh, the friend of both, has spread the message of peace without favoring anyone even during the incident of tension and loss of life on the Ladakh border.
Why there so much concern about leaning of Bangladesh: China or India to whom is Bangladesh leaning? Such a question was raised in the last press conference of the Prime Minister. The question came in the context of preparations for the Beijing visit after the Prime Minister’s visit to New Delhi. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has announced to maintain her balanced position. Even then, the talks did not stop. More recently, former Indian Foreign Secretary Harshvardhan Shringla has warned of China’s growing influence in Bangladesh in an article. He openly said that it could adversely affect the Bangladesh-India relationship. In an article written in the Indian news media Economic Times, former Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Harshvardhan Shringla also highlighted the depth of Dhaka-Delhi relations. Meanwhile, in the context of preparations for the Prime Minister’s back-to-back visit to New Delhi and his visit to Beijing in a short period of time, the chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the former Foreign Minister Dr. Abdul Momen said that Bangladesh is not leaning towards China. No one has any reason to fear about this. Momen thinks that there is no chasm in India-Bangladesh relations. This friendship is intact and unbreakable. According to Momen, the propaganda that China is increasing its influence in Bangladesh after Maldives is unfounded. He claimed that Bangladesh is not affected by China’s influence. China is Bangladesh’s only development partner. They are only cooperating in some projects of this country. Referring to what Bangladesh received from China is less than 1 percent of the GDP, the former foreign minister said that it is not a significant event. According to him, Bangladesh is leaning towards China – it is just a propaganda.
Bangladesh was wary of Chinese minister’s attempt to get ‘state guest’ status in Dhaka: Meanwhile, Chinese Communist Party leader and International Affairs Minister Liu Jianchao visited Bangladesh within a few hours of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Delhi. There was a delegation of 5 members. After Liu, a very influential figure in Chinese politics, came to Dhaka, President Md. Sahabuddin and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina got a courtesy meeting. The meeting was held by the Minister of Foreign AffairsHasan Mahmud. The foreign minister hosted a luncheon in honor of the Chinese guest. The banquet was held at Hotel Intercontinental in the capital. According to diplomatic sources, the leader of the Chinese Communist Party received the meeting at the highest level of the state as he expected. Given state protocol, it was not supposed to be received, yet it was done. Still, China’s demand was to hold a meeting and lunch with the minister at the state guest house, which Dhaka avoided very carefully. A diplomat claimed that an attempt was made to maintain some balance by not inviting state guests to the Bhavan.

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