Bangladesh has strategic interest, as well as an active role to play in the management of the Sino-Indian rivalry and the Indo-Pacific region, according to Professor Kanti Prasad Bajpai, a well-known scholar and renowned expert in the field of South Asian politics.
"A convergence and the management of China-India relations and larger Indo-Pacific is in the interest of Bangladesh," he said.
Professor Kanti Prasad Bajpai, Vice Dean at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, made the remarks while giving a lecture on the Sino-Indian rivalry and its global ramifications, at Independent University of Bangladesh on Sunday.
The public lecture titled 'Squaring the Circle of India-China strategic interests intersecting in the Indo Pacific: implications for South Asia and Regional and Global Stability, security and Peace' was moderated by Professor Dr Borhan Uddin Khan of the department of Law at Dhaka University.
At the beginning of the program, Enayetullah Khan, the Chairman of Cosmos Foundation delivered the opening remarks on the topic.
"The issue of China-India rivalry is of great importance and of great significance not only for Bangladesh, but for the entire South, Southeast and East Asia and the Bay of Bengal regions with larger and global ramifications that will affect us all in greater measure," he said in his opening remarks.
Referring to China and India's history of economic growth, Enayetullah Khan said the both country's relationship have been muddied by complications and jostling for interest.
Meanwhile, Professor Kanti said Bangladesh has a wide range of interests that can be disturbed if the rivalry between China and India sharpens.
"The kind of norms, institutions, and expectations around diplomatic intercourse of economic relationships in the Indo-Pacific would be fundamentally disturbed," he said.
Referring to both country's presence and influence in Myanmar which is plagued with civil war and political turmoil, he noted that the rivalry within the two powers in Myanmar will have spillover effects on Bangladesh.
Referring Bangladesh's economic stake in East Asia Professor Kanti said: "The sharpening rivalry of India and China threatens to disturb the economic order that Bangladesh pertakes of and benefits from today and into the future."
Role of Bangladesh
The renowned scholar, and the author of "India Versus China: Why they are Not Friends" said Bangladesh has a set of assets that can enable Dhaka to actively play a role in the management of Sino-Indian rivalry and the Indo-Pacific region.
"Bangladesh has a very good balance between India and China. I can't think of too many countries with such diplomatic sophistication, demographic size, economic size and the location to be able to speak to both powers in a transparent, informal, productive and constructive way."
Referring to Bangladesh's balanced relations with global powers such as the United States and Russia, Professor Kanti said Bangladesh is in a good place to promote dialogue and understanding between the global powers.
'More convergence than conflict'
Professor Kanti said despite the growing rivalries between the two Asian super powers, India and China cooperate in almost every level of diplomacy.
"If you look at their stances on various global issues like climate change, rising protectionism, humanitarian intervention, China and India both are on the same side despite having differences in other areas," he said.
According to Kanti Bajpai, both India and China are arguing for democratisation of international order and international relationships together in the global institutions.
He also highlighted the both country's cooperation on a regional and bilateral level.
There's a culture of military restraint between the two countries, according to Prof. Bajpai.
Referring to bilateral agreements between the two countries regarding the use of firearms in border, the professor said: "Since the 1960s, they have built a healthy dose of military confidence building measures that are understanding about deployment of troops, the military complement of troops (what weapons they can carry), the kind of communications pattern between local commander, the kind of exercise they can hold.
At the beginning of the lecture, Professor Bajpai shed light on the history of the Indo-Pacific region and all the rivalries and competition surrounding the region.
Meanwhile, former ambassador Tariq A Karim, the director of Center for Bay of Bengal Studies, believes India and China will not be engaging in open war.
Former ambassador Tariq said: "They have much more in convergence than they have in conflict."
"They're modern powers. And modern powers will always be flexing muscles. Each will be trying to get into the position of advantage," he added.
The Vice Chancellor of Independent University, Professor Tanweer Hasan also spoke at the session.
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