Bangladesh needs both the USA and China. Now, Bangladesh and the Bay of Bengal get attention from world powers. The USA, the UK, China, India and Japan have focused their attention on South Asia, Bangladesh and the Bay of Bengal. The USA has shifted its policy from ‘Asia-Pacific’ towards ‘Indo-Pacific’ to counter China’s ‘BRI’. Both parties want Bangladesh in their respective blocs.
Bangladesh’s policies are not towards bipartisan international politics. Bangladesh was an active member of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Bangladesh has no intention and interest to join any bloc. But Bangladesh has the intention to be benefitted from the blocs. Bangladesh wants and believes in peaceful coexistence in the region. It always avoids any kind of clash with any actor. Despite having provocation from Myanmar during the Rohingya refugee crisis in 2017, it abstained from using any kind of force. Bangladesh is balancing successfully with ‘BRI’ and ‘IPS’. Whether Bangladesh is involved in the US-led Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) or the Chinese-led Belt and Road (BRI), it must maintain peace and the rule of law in the region to reap the maximum economic benefits from these.
Bangladesh still believes in the relevance of NAM, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam said at the summit in Venezuela in 2016. NAM was set up during the Cold War as an association of countries that did not wish to take sides with either the USA or USSR. Basically, Bangladesh wasn’t to take sides against either. But after the demise of the USSR, the present USA-China rivalry recalls the past. The participation of Bangladesh in the 18th NAM summit in Baku, Azerbaijan, in 2019 further strengthened the country’s position in the international arena.
Bangladesh is handling this issue tactically. It avoids direct involvement with the blocs. Having been requested by the USA for years, Bangladesh didn’t show any interest to sign the ACSA (Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement) and GSOMIA (General Security of Military Information Agreement) with the USA. On the other hand, When the Chinese Envoy to Bangladesh commented that Bangladesh shouldn’t join IPS last year, Bangladesh strongly protested against the remarks, saying Bangladesh is capable of forming its own national policy.
Bangladesh wants and believes in peaceful coexistence in the region. Whether Bangladeshis are involved in the US-led Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) or the Chinese-led Belt and Road (BRI), it must maintain peace and the rule of law in the maritime region to reap the maximum economic benefits.