Fret Not Delhi, Dhaka's Surely Not In Beijing's Orb

(MENAFN- Asia Times) For decades, Sino-Indian competition for sway over Bangladesh has been a hard-driving force in South Asia's geopolitics. As a neighbor of India and a littoral state of the Indian Ocean, Bangladesh has often been embroiled in the rivalry, and accordingly, both Beijing and New Delhi have sought to expand their influence over the nation, often at the other's expense.

Since the late 1950s, Bangladesh, known as East Pakistan between 1947 and 1971, has been a geopolitical battleground between the dragon (China) and the elephant (India). During this period, Pakistan developed close ties with China and thus East Pakistan was in the Chinese orbit.

However, after Bangladesh's independence in 1971, the country's foreign policy was based on the maxim“friendship to all, malice towards none,” and adopted a non-aligned, non-confrontational and positively neutral foreign policy. The country has thus maintained pragmatic and cooperative relations with both India and China, carefully balancing and navigating their strategic competition.

Even so, several Indian analysts have expressed concerns about the possible integration of Bangladesh into China's sphere of influence. However, this is an utter misinterpretation of Dhaka's foreign policy and thus it is necessary to address the allegation from a balanced and objective point of view.

First, Bangladesh is an independent and sovereign state, and accordingly, it is fully entitled to conduct its foreign affairs without external interference under customary international law.

Legally and morally, Bangladesh has complete freedom of action over its foreign policy as long as its policies do not violate the provisions of the United Nations (UN) Charter. Bangladesh has the right to develop partnerships with any country, including China, and no other country has the legal right to interfere in the process.

While Bangladesh is entitled to complete foreign policy autonomy, it is understandable that India would strive to maximize its security and thus view Chinese involvement in its immediate neighborhood with certain concern. However, New Delhi should realize that Dhaka's partnership with Beijing is not directed against any other state, including India.

Bangladesh is exclusively concerned with its internal development and its partnership with China aims at fulfilling its own developmental needs. The Indians should also remember that Dhaka has repeatedly demonstrated its good-neighborliness towards New Delhi by taking into account India's security concerns.

For instance, Dhaka has closed the bases of northeast Indian insurgents in its border areas, extradited northeast Indian rebel leaders to India and refrained from implementing the Chinese-backed deep seaport project in the Sonadia Island.


Asia Times

Legal Disclaimer:
MENAFN provides the information “as is” without warranty of any kind. We do not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, content, images, videos, licenses, completeness, legality, or reliability of the information contained in this article. If you have any complaints or copyright issues related to this article, kindly contact the provider above.