Should Bangladesh only witness Sino-Indian clash?
There is a proverb that, "don't try to fix something until it is broken". This proverb means before the final stage we should not take any step in midway. This proverb often makes a significant contribution to the national interest in foreign policy making. Recently there is a volatile situation existing in south Asian politics. And that is the Sino-Indian border clash.
On 15th June a melee weapons battle took places between the two sides on the Sino-Indian border. According to Indian media twenty Indian soldiers, including an Indian colonel, were killed in the clash. But it was not clear how many Chinese soldiers were wounded or killed. The clash between the two nations' armies has caused tension between the two countries. Both countries have strengthened their military position on the border. It is considered the preparation for an upcoming war.
The war-like situation between the two countries during the Corona pandemic has left the rest of South Asia in a precarious situation. Both China and India play a key role in south Asian politics. China and India both are the strongest countries, economically and politically, among other Asian countries in the region. As a result, relations with China and India are very important for other south Asian countries. Observing the position of other south Asian countries after the Sino-Indian border conflict, it is seen that the South Asian countries Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bhutan will go in favor of China.
There are many reasons behind this. For example, China has a lot of big investments in these countries. Even before the Sino-Indian conflict on the border, India's relations with these countries had begun freezing. For example, on Kashmir issue, an unstable relation occurred between India and Pakistan. After publishing new territorial map of Nepal, India's relation with Nepal started to decline. Since Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected Prime Minister, India's relations with Sri Lanka have been strained. On the other hand, India's one of the most reliable neighbor Bhutan is also leaning towards China for its own interest. As a result, in the current situation, the position of these countries is more likely to be China-centric.
Now the question is that, what will be the position of Bangladesh? or which side will Bangladesh stand on? As Bangladesh is one of the most important countries in south Asia's politics. That is why a clear position of Bangladesh is very important. A closer look reveals that in the current Sino-Indian conflict situation, so far Bangladesh has shown the most diplomatic efficiency in terms of its position among other countries in South Asia. Bangladesh has not yet declared its support for any particular side, following the motto of its foreign policy "friendship with all, malice towards none".
It is very helpful for Bangladesh to achieve its interests, because Bangladesh has good relations with both China and India. Both these two countries are important for Bangladesh. Bangladesh shares its borders with India on three sides. Due to its geographical location and geopolitics, Bangladesh has good relation with India since the liberation war of 1971. On the other hand, warm relation with China is also very important for Bangladesh's economic and military development. China has invested in many big projects in Bangladesh. China owns 25 per cent of the Dhaka Stock Exchange.
Recently, China has provided duty-free export of 5161 Bangladesh's product in Chinese market. Besides Bangladesh is one of the arms importers of China. Most of the weapons Bangladesh's armed forces are imported from China. Bangladesh bought two submarines from China. These submarines are considered very helpful for patrolling in the Bay of Bengal. For all of these things, good relation with China is essential for the development of Bangladesh.
But at a time when Bangladesh's two closest neighbors are at loggerheads with each other, Bangladesh should ensure its neutral position and urge the two friends to remain calm for own interest of Bangladesh. If Bangladesh takes the side of any one, then it will not be helpful for Bangladesh. Because, no matter how divisive the current situation between China and India is, the reality is that these countries will sit at the negotiating table for the sake of their own economy. And the tense situation on the border will calm down.
Because of the Corona epidemic, the economies of the world's two largest countries are under threat. As a result, naturally, these two overpopulated countries would not want to carry the burden of war in such an economic crisis. That is why Bangladesh should not support any one party in the current situation. Because, at some point both the disputing parties will come to an agreement for their own benefits. Those countries now supporting one side will be considered as enemy of the unsupported side when the situation will be returned to normal.
And it will play a vital role in settling the accounts of the side that have not been supported with those countries. Then in future it will be very tough for those countries in bilateral negotiations with unsupported side. There is a saying about international relations that "In international relations you may forgive but not forget". That is why it will be wise for Bangladesh not to take one side in the Sino-Indian conflict for its own interests. For the continuation of growing development and tackling this Covid-19 pandemic situation, Bangladesh needs help from Both China and India. So, it will be good for Bangladesh to avoid biasness in such a complex situation. And Bangladesh should continue warm relations with both of these disputed countries.
The writer is a student, Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka