Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Although Indian policymakers are clearly scared at China’s growing cooperation with Bangladesh, according to experts, Dhaka needs Beijing’s assistance in continuing its current economic growth and advancing towards emerging as one of the strong economies in Asia. As part of the commitment of the Communist Party of China (CPC), China already has sent experts for helping Bangladesh in effectively combating the current challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown. China’s ruling party also has offered to form a sister-city alliance between several Bangladeshi and Chinese cities. This proposal was placed by the Communist Party of China in May this year. According to media reports, CPC has proposed to form sister-city alliances with six Bangladeshi cities including Dhaka. This proposal has been widely appreciated by the policymakers in Bangladesh, as it will open a new vista of wider cooperation between the two friendly countries. But Indian policymakers are feeling shattered at these developments while several Indian writers and researchers being assigned by the government are vigorously writing in various newspapers and portals with the agenda of misleading people.
According to experts, sister-cities are formed with the signing of agreements between the cities of the two friendly countries to promote the cultural and economic relations. The core aim of this initiative is to promote people-to-people connectivity. Traditionally, sister-cities are proved to have been extremely helpful in developing understanding and a sense of bonding among the people of the two cities who ally.
Amongst the Chinese cities, Shanghai and Beijing, for example, have the highest number of sister-city arrangements while few more Chinese cities also are being connected with cities in the friendly countries for interaction among the people of the sister-cities and offer various educational exchanges, art, and linguistic residence and cultural exchange programs.
In 2019, China Daily reported about Li Xiaolin, president of the Chinese People Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries mentioning that “sister-city relations play an important role in boosting cooperation and exchange among Chinese and foreign cities under the framework of the BRI (Belt and Road Initiative).”
Bangladesh joined BRI in 2016 and it is well anticipated that the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative will help Bangladesh in further boosting its export trade with most of the Asian, European, and African nations.
In May this year, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during her telephonic discussion with Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated the commitment of her country’s cooperation to BRI.
BRI is the abbreviation of the Belt Road Initiative, which is China’s flagship foreign policy initiative under which large infrastructure projects are developed in the countries across the globe. China is emphasizing on developing sister-cities in the countries that joined BRI and is estimated to have already established sister-city relations with around 700 cities in the countries joining BRI.
Bangladesh is an important partner of China in South Asia. China has offered to invest around $24 billion in Bangladesh, which is one of the highest assistances promised to a country under BRI.
Notably, Bangladesh and China enjoy a -decade-old warm and friendly relationship, while policymakers in Beijing put the highest emphasis on these relations and are committed in further deepening the relations. China is wholeheartedly willing to extend every possible cooperation to Bangladesh in achieving economic prosperity.
Indian policymakers always want its small neighbors such as Bangladesh in remaining submissive and Delhi has a long history of most betraying with the neighboring countries in multiple ways. This wrong tendency of the Indian policymakers has already started backfiring as most of the South Asian nations, including Nepal, a country which had always been extremely loyal to India, have suddenly started slipping out of Delhi’s clutch and find real allies in the world.
Big brotherly tendency and hostility towards the neighboring nations always bring a bitter result in the end. Most possibly, for India, it is time for realizing its blunders and not spoil its relations with the neighboring nations further by unexpected interfering into internal issues of any country. Bangladesh is a sovereign country. It is not bound to listen to foul dictations of any nation. Policymakers in Delhi should now start realizing this and change its habit of undue big-brotherly attitude. India should remember, it is a poor and struggling nation and its ambition of emerging as another superpower like the United States is just madness.
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is an internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-jihadist journalist, counter-terrorism specialist and editor of Blitz