Photoshop by Clementine Todorov
CLEMENTINE TODOROV WRITES – As a nation struggling with environmental and economic setbacks, Bangladesh has taken a step forward to ally itself with China once again. Previously, the Republic of China had ties with Pakistan which fostered tension with Bangladesh since its rebellion and established independence as a nation in 1971.
On October 14th, Xi Jinping, President of the Republic of China, met with Bangladeshi officials to discuss their trade relationship. This visit validates the progress Bangladesh has made and has uplifted the spirits of the population, elevating the country’s international relations through their relationship with China.
It is a reawakening for Bangladesh and China relations. It has been three decades since the last President of China visited despite the two countries being very active trade partners. China and Bangladesh finally signed numerous trade deals, with a total of $13.6 billion, recently in October. In addition, Forbes reports these deals range from financing to infrastructure and energy resources, along with information and technology programs. China’s renewed interest in Bangladesh is part of China’s One Belt, One Road strategy, which was initiated in 2013 to rebuild the original trade routes of the Silk Road.
China has also acquired a bid to work on a rail line project totaling of $3 billion, connecting cities and even the capital to southwestern regions in Bangladesh. This will help Bangladesh in obtaining foreign investments once investors see that the country is developing tremendously.
This is a new beginning for both countries and will help maintain good relations with neighboring countries, such as Myanmar and India. Despite the previous conflicts between China and India over allegiances to Pakistan, Sheikh Hasina, the current Prime Minister of Bangladesh, has been interested in balancing Bangladeshi relations with both China and India. Bangladesh will have to be very diplomatic in its relationships with each country, as China is more of an economic ally while India is more of a cultural ally.
Bangladesh has been spending time with other neighboring countries in order to garner support in the counter-terrorism sphere. Bangladesh Ambassador to the United States, Mohammad Ziauddin, says, “Cooperation is imperative for optimum utilization of resources and thus development, peace and stability of the region.” It is vital for Bangladesh to continue working with its neighbors as it strengthens ties to combat terrorism.
Given the new President-elect, the United States should take note of Bangladesh’ diplomatic relationships with both China and India. Their decision to foster strong ties with two countries who historically do not see eye to eye could be a valuable lesson for the United States as it is in a time of transitioning leadership. As the Dhaka Tribune states, The Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh “has already invited President-elect Trump to visit Bangladesh to witness the ‘phenomenal development’ that has taken place in recent years.” Only time will tell if their relationship will flourish as Bangladesh’ has with its neighbors.