Long years ago, Napoleon sounded a warning that was to prove prescient in terms of history. China is a sleeping giant, he noted. Let it sleep, for when it wakes, it will shake the world. Indeed, it was a fully awakened China that was the subject of a seminar organized at the Cosmos Centre on Wednesday, the theme being the country’s place in the contemporary world. That place, we dare say, is one which has been acknowledged by all, despite all the reservations and all the apprehensions some nations and governments may have on the issue. The reality today is that China has come of age and in line with the Napoleonic prediction is ready to play its role in a reshaping of the world in terms of geopolitics, the economy and global political systems. A clear hint of that comes through Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, an idea making the rounds around continents.
In terms of Bangladesh’s links with China, there is little question that the ties between the two nations have grown and deepened over the past many years. With Dhaka now ready to embrace the BRI initiative, albeit through expressing caution over certain aspects of it in light of the experiences some other nations have gone through in recent times, it is obvious that a wide expanse is now out there for China and Bangladesh to cooperate in endeavours that can only result in mutual benefits. In the recent past, President Xi Jinping has been to Dhaka and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has visited Beijing. The Bangladesh leader’s forthcoming visit to China is certainly a measure of the even closer cooperation the two countries mean to forge between themselves, particularly in the economic region. Again, we in Bangladesh are cognizant of the fact that China in recent years has been the source of our defence requirements. Exchanges of ideas between the defence establishments of the two countries have added to the development of relations.
For many around the world, the Chinese presence on the global landscape is not without its drawbacks, as the situation in the South China Sea has demonstrated. On a larger scale, however, China’s arrival on the world stage is a clear and satisfactory deterrent to efforts by other powerful nations to play a dominant role in the shaping of a world in sore need of positive change. The Chinese have invested heavily in Africa and in significant parts of Asia. As an economic powerhouse, it has been determined to stave off any attempted hegemony in international trade by nations which previously enjoyed unalloyed freedom in the field.
We in Bangladesh, given our growing ties with China, would certainly want Beijing to pitch in with diplomatic support in a resolution of such seemingly intractable issues as the Rohingya crisis. Let Beijing respond to our expectations in a favourable manner.