Dhaka, Bangladesh
China's BRI unites rival Bangladesh politicos

China's BRI unites rival Bangladesh politicos

AL, BNP men, leftists board bandwagon on Silk Road

News Report A hold-all platform called Bangladesh-China Silk Road Forum surfaced Saturday with strange bedfellows boarding the bandwagon. From its initial looks it holds a promise of patching up Bangladesh's fractious politics and rival politicos, if fully fledged. China's Silk Road metaphor is seen as an all-encompassing agenda for connecting the world with road, rail and waterway communications. In a greater sense the flagship recipe is meant for uniting humanity with people-to-people contact. Under its paradigm, the 'One Belt, One Road' or OBOR connectivity concept has been finally formulated as Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The 'Road' here doesn't merely mean roadway-it's inclusive of communications among all countries and people by all means of contact or connectivity. This BRI is known as a brainchild of President Xi Jinping, who is also rallying rival global political figures and superpowers of the yesteryear in different forms and forums trying to reshape geopolitical order. He began with befriending President Vladimir Putin of once-superpower Russia. With him he, overtly or covertly, trying to do dispute settlement in various pockets of the world, including the devastating, civilization-destructive Middle East conflicts. Very interesting, analysts say, is sitting two dangerously nuclear-armed rulers of superpower America and North Korea together in two summits so far with their nuclear bombs and warheads on the shelf. Iran and the United States are just headed off from a gulf clash. China drives cargo trains up to London, UK, and Germany to connect the globe and built bases in Asia and Africa with an avowed aim of pulling up those below the par in development pursuits. In this geopolitical landscape appears the forum in Bangladesh with some representatives also drawn from both the ruling Awami League and its archrival BNP, apart from left parties and professions. A unifying greater goal is what Bangladesh needs most at the moment, many analysts say. Reports say major political forces in Bangladesh, including the ruling Awami League, BNP and left parties, joined their hands to launch the Bangladesh-China Silk Road Forum with vow to promote the BRI greater goals. The forum, launched at a function at the National Press Club Saturday, will serve as a 'coordinating body for promoting cooperation with China and other member-countries', said its founder-chairman Dilip Barua, also the general secretary of Bangladesher Samyabadi Dal, and former minister of the AL-led coalition. BNP standing committee member Dr Abdul Moyeen Khan, Awami League advisory council member Mozaffar Hossain Paltu, JSD chief and ex-minister Hasanul Haque Inu and Sharif Nurul Ambia and columnist Syed Abul Maksud are among vice-chairmen. The Communist Party of Bangladesh and the Workers Party of Bangladesh expressed their solidarity with the initiative during the programme and were allotted two vice-chairman posts in the forum. Journalist Shahiduzzaman Khan of the Financial Express is the member-secretary of the 49-member executive board on which Dr Wahedul Islam, Bimal Biswas, Prof Delwar Hossain, and Dr Mostaq Hussain of JSD will be members, among others. "The full committee will be formed soon," said Inu while announcing the names of the chairman, seven vice-chairmen, one secretary-general, two joint secretaries-general, one treasurer, publicity secretary, office secretary and 20 members. Prime Minister's International Affairs Adviser Gowher Rizvi and Chinese Ambassador in Dhaka Zhang Zuo also attended the ceremony and lauded the move as a "timely" initiative. Bangladesh joined the BRI during Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Dhaka in 2016. The initiative aims to rebuild the old Silk Road to connect China with Asia, Europe and beyond through massive infrastructural spending. However, the initiative has been the subject of controversy in many western capitals, particularly Washington, which view it as merely a means to spread Chinese influence abroad and trap countries into debt through "nontransparent" projects. India did not join the BRI, citing concerns over China's projects with Pakistan, including China-Pakistan Economic Corridor or CPEC. Some analysts say India is not comfortable with Bangladesh's participation in the initiative, according to an agency report. "This is the time," Rizvi said about the new forum, adding that the government does not see any conflict in the relations with India and China. "Our support and participation in BRI does not exclude us from participation in other initiatives such as Indo-Pacific strategy," he said as India is one of the key partners of the strategy pursued by the United States. "We in Bangladesh do not see any conflict between the two. Both these have their own reasons and purposes. Both of them will advance our goal and prosperity," he said. "What is also very important that Indo-China relations over the last 10 years have improved phenomenally. India is one of the largest trading partners of China. Their relations are improving. So we need not worry that one is at the cost of the other," said the PM adviser on foreign affairs. "This is not a zero-sum game. It's a positive-sum game. We get benefit with all these initiatives and we should place ourselves into these." Ambassador Zhang Zuo said the Bangladesh-China Silk Road Forum is being established "at the right moment when there is a lot to be achieved". He pointed out that Bangladesh's diplomatic policy of 'friendship to all, malice to none' and President Xi Jinping's 'Thought of diplomacy' both have provided "new opportunities for win-win cooperation for our two countries". "Bangladeshi people's dream of a strong and wealthy nation, manifested in the dream of Sonar Bangla, and the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation pursued by the Chinese people are interconnected," the diplomat of the socialist country told the meet. Zuo hoped that this forum "could pay attention to telling good stories about China-Bangladesh friendship, passing on the voices in the communication and exchanges between our two countries, and building this forum into an important bridge for China-Bangladesh connectivity." Next year, Bangladesh and China will mark the 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties. "We need to work together to create a congenial atmosphere for cooperation and deepen our policy connectivity and people-to-people bond, so as to bring more benefits to both our peoples, and push the China-Bangladesh relations into a better new era." BNP's Moyeen Khan congratulated Dilip Barua on his taking the initiative and said China's BRI is important for balancing the world order. "Purely western domination cannot bring good to total population," he said. "There needs some kind of balance in the world." The BNP leader further said, "As it [BRI] unifies the world through the process of development, the BRI in fact is a global project." He said: "We'll move in the sense of a competition, not conflict which has become an apparent trend in the western world." Columnist Abul Maksud described Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as "pragmatic" for maintaining balanced relations with both India and China. CPB Presidium member Abdullah Al Kafi Ratan expressed "solidarity" of his party with this new Forum. Hasanul Haq Inu, who was the information minister of Hasina's last cabinet, said this forum will act as a bridge between the regional and sub-regional forums. The BRI will increase connectivity, enhance the tourism industry, spur economic development and trade, he said. "It'll be a great boost for the economic development of Asia," he said, urging all in Bangladesh, irrespective of political affiliations, to support the BRI. They also adopted a manifesto outlining the activities of the multiparty common forum. (Inputs taken from agencies, media reports)

Share |