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7 July, 2019 10:31:23 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 7 July, 2019 10:56:11 AM


Sheikh Hasina’s balancing act

Sheikh Hasina's visit to China will reassure Beijing and the economic and political relation between the two countries will be stronger
Sheikh Hasina’s balancing act

In this critical world situation Sheikh Hasina's present visit to China is significant. The Indian daily The Statesman commented that Sheikh Hasina went to China to warm up the relation between the two countries but it is more than that.

America is now determined to extend their cold war vigorously in South Asia, including Bangladesh and the Maldives. A high ranking official of American South Asian Division recently declared that they cannot ignore the importance of Bangladesh as a big Market because there are now 17 crore people there and they cannot allow China to grab this market and extend their military influence. After this announcement Sheikh Hasina's immediate China visit is very indicative of her persuasion of a balanced policy between Western powers, China and even India. Perhaps, Sheikh Hasina has already assured India that they have nothing to fear about Bangladesh's friendship with China. Bangladesh's development is now very rapid with the partnership of India and China. India is the biggest neighbour of Bangladesh and Modi government was assured by Hasina that Bangladesh will not do anything to harm India's interest. So far it is evident that Modi has trusted Hasina government and agreed to increase their mutual cooperation.|
The Trump government also wants to play the same game which the ex-President Bush Junior wanted to play by putting China and India against each other and taking benefit from it. They used the same ploy before between China and Russia and destroyed Soviet Union and became the sole super power. But this time this game is not working in America's favour. Under Modi government the economic relation between India and China has increased tremendously. China's investment in India is now huge and despite their conflict in the border area has not yet settled, the tension between the two countries has substantially decreased. Trump administration is not very happy with Modi government. India is suffering from America's increased economic sanction. There is some sort of understanding between India, Russia, China and Brazil to form a powerful economic block to free themselves from World Bank's dominance. So question remains whether America can play a big game in South Asia especially in the Maldives and Bangladesh by avoiding India. Some political observers in Delhi also think that Sheikh Hasina's China visit will not create any big commotion in India. India might get anxious that China should not have a strong foothold in Bangladesh, but they will not react strongly to it as they did in the late 70s or early 80s.  

America does not have its previous supremacy to dictate the other countries in the world. In the 50s America tried to tame Nasser of Egypt by withdrawing World Bank's money for building dam over the Nile. Nasser survived the threat by accepting help from the-then Super power Soviet Union. But when this time World Bank wanted to cow down Hasina government by refusing to fund the Padma project and there was no other super power to help Dhaka, Hasina stood alone and declared that Padma bridge will be built with our own resources. The bridge is going to be completed within a very short time. Hasina government so far accepted American help to rebuild Bangladesh's economy, it resisted the offer of military help which will ultimately bring the country under direct American domination. Hasina has seen that American help – economic or military did not establish peace and democracy in the Middle East but devastated the entire zone which is still continuing. Bangladesh government is very wisely pursuing a foreign policy which has built up a balancing relation between Bangladesh and other South Asian countries big or small.

Even in Rohingya crisis which was one of the biggest crises to her government Hasina not only rehabilitated a large portion of refugees temporarily but avoided a military confrontation with Myanmar though she was provoked by many circles from outside and inside of the country. The whole world praised her patience and tenacity and her humanitarian role in the Rohingya crisis. Indian media also praised Hasina government's balancing role between Delhi and Beijing. Though The Statesman said she has gone to China to warm up relations another influential daily of Delhi commented that after the threat that America will confront China in South-Asia especially in Bangladesh and the Maldives, Sheikh Hasina's immediate visit to China will soothe Beijing and the economic and political relation between the two countries will be stronger. Hasina also needs Beijing's support to settle the Rohingya issue permanently. Because of their economic interest in Myanmar both China and India remained silent about the genocide in Myanmar. The Indian paper said, ' We are not certain, but there is strong rumour that Rohingya problem will get top priority in the Dhaka-Beijing discussion'.

Bangladesh has also big problem with the distribution of Teesta water. The government of India both previous Congress and present BJP are willing to settle this issue mutually and peacefully. The great hurdle is the obstinate role played by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. She tried to build up her power-base in West Bengal among the Urdu speaking Bengalis who fled from Bangladesh during the Independence war and established a powerful political base there. Like previous Left Front government, Mamata Banerjee administration is full of these Biharis. They are blindly anti-Bangladesh and anti-Hasina. To keep them satisfied Mamata Banerjee had to pursue a policy against Hasina government covertly. Now the situation has changed a bit. In the recent Indian election BJP's victory in West Bengal has left Mamata vulnerable. Observers say if Modi takes a strong stand to settle Teesta with Dhaka, Mamata may not take an obstinate role again.

If Hasina's current China visit brings Beijing closer to Dhaka then Modi will perhaps, try to counter it by offering Bangladesh more economic cooperation including a Teesta treaty which would be mutually beneficial. If Bangladesh, India and China could stand together economically despite a few unresolved border and other issues, the American plan to regain their control and dominance in South Asia would be thwarted. So, in the present political context Sheikh Hasina's current China visit is indeed, very important.

London, Friday 05 July, 2019



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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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