Indian and US relations with China can cast shadow on regional cooperation: Analysts



The Indo-China and US-China tensions can have a “deep negative shadow” on cooperation within the region, including Bangladesh’s economic cooperation with China, two foreign relations analysts have said.

They noted the standoff between Indian and Chinese soldiers in Ladakh following the killing of 20 Indian soldiers in June and the US’ relations that reached lowest level in decades over coronavirus pandemic, trade war and the tensions in Hong Kong, Taiwan, South China Sea.

Bangladesh Enterprise Institute President M Humayun Kabir said he can see interference by third countries over bilateral cooperation — something that was not observed before.

“For example, we have recently seen India and China’s competition at the Dhaka Stock Exchange,” he said at a virtual dialogue on Bangladesh-China development cooperation organised by the Centre for Policy Dialogue today.

He also noted that geopolitics is getting mixed up in projects like Sylhet’s airport expansion project and Teesta basin management project.

Humayun Kabir, Bangladesh’s former ambassador to the US, said he sees more difficulty ahead as Bangladesh goes to develop more connectivity and blue economy projects.

“They [India and China] have taken almost mutually exclusive position. Also, they are trying to influence other countries in the region to take them on their side,” he said.

Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) President Maj Gen (Retd) ANM Muniruzzaman also echoed Kabir, saying the standoff between China and India at Ladakh has a negative shadow on Bangladesh’s relations within South Asia, particularly because India is Bangladesh’s very large neighbour and has deep connections to Bangladesh both in economic and political spheres.

“But a bigger question that comes to my mind now is the great tension between US and China and that is going to reshape much of the global landscape in our strategic relationship,”  he said.

“I see there is a chance of a new cold war,” he said, adding that if that comes about then all countries including the countries like Bangladesh may have to re-navigate pathways again, as “we reshape our bilateral and multi-lateral relationship with countries including our relationship with US and China”.

The situation may force Bangladesh to choose a side, the analyst said, warning that Bangladesh should avoid taking any side at all cost.

Referring to the defense agreements signed on Tuesday between US and India on sharing of geospatial information, the security expert said Bangladesh needs to charter its ways very carefully.

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