India-China clash: Bangladesh stands with India as geopolitical history says

Rumana Rakhi

Rumana Rakhi

Rumana Rakhi works as a journalist at the Daily Amader Shomoy. Previously worked for the Daily Kalerkonto,  the Daily Bartoman, Arthosuchok. Now lives in UK in exile.

Mao Zedong, the founder of the Communist Party of China, had expanded his country’s territory during his reign by taking over the adjacent areas by force. Tibet was one of them, which is currently an autonomous region of China. It was after Tibet was occupied and incorporated into the People’s Republic of China that the country established borders with India, Nepal, Bhutan and Northern Myanmar.

The current president of China, Xi Jinping, has taken Mao Zedong’s ideologies regarding oppression a couple more steps ahead. Whilst the entire world is fighting against the deadly coronavirus, Chinese authorities are creating havoc in the region by trying to meddle in Hong-Kong despite its autonomic status. Alongside that, Xi Jinping’s government has been embroiled in territorial disputes with its neighboring countries for trying to force complete control over regions of the bordering countries.

That isn’t the only controversy China has partaken in. Chinese government has developed concentration camps, which they claim to be Vocational Education and Training Centers, where about million Uighurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim minorities are thought to have been detained without trial for the past three years. These camps are specifically designed to erase the traditions and culture of specific minority groups. China is also responsible for instigating the Rohingya genocide, as well as making it difficult for Bangladesh government to take actions to send the Rohingya people back to Rakhine. The country is also trying to create unrest on the borders shared with India, possibly to start a war. They are aided by the Nepalese government and Pakistani militants in this pursuit.

Despite being criticized for revoking Kashmir’s autonomous status, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision for doing so has started making sense in recent times. Since the revocation of Article 370, the terrorist activities in that area have ceased considerably due to the strict monitoring from the central government. It is understood that several Kashmiri Muslims were involved with the Pakistani militant organisations that were based in Kashmir. Having known that, Modi’s decision, however tough it might have been, seems prudent now. If Article 370 wasn’t abolished, Pakistan and China would have certainly instigated even more terrorist activities in this area, as well as using the Ladakh face-off incident to destabilize the political environment of the subcontinent.

Soon after the revocation of the limited autonomy granted to Kashmir by Article 370, Chinese president Xi Jinping visited India. He was, however, asked to not interfere in the Kashmir crisis between India and Pakistan as it was the internal affair of said countries. The reason for India’s harsh stance is alleged to be due to China’s investment in Pakistan occupied Kashmir to kick start the dam project that India had been rejecting for years.

Over the years Indian Army has encountered hundreds of terrorists in Kashmir, most of whom have been identified as Pakistani citizens. Which indicates that over the decades, Pakistani terrorists were behind the encounters between alleged Kashmiri fighters and Indian Army. Pakistani terrorist organisations, namely – Lashkar E Taiyyeba, Jaise Muhammad, Hizbul Mujahid et cetera – have conducted terrorist attacks all over India time and again. Moreover, India has always provided certifiable evidence that confirmed their involvement.

In fact, when Indian authorities demanded the prosecution of Maulana Hafiz Sayeed, the brain behind the brutal attacks in Mumbai executed by 10 members of Lashkar E Tayyiba in 2008, Islamabad denied it initially. Later, as more evidence emerged, followed by the confession of Azmal Kasab proved India’s claims to be true. It is also speculated that these organisations receive financial aids from China. Which can be considered as circumstantial evidence of China’s propaganda of controlling and meddling with the political environment of the subcontinent. It is also to be noted that, no other countries of SAARC have conflict as intense as it is between India and Pakistan. So, it makes sense for China to use that for their benefit and contribute in accelerating it.

Additionally, because of the deadly skirmish between Indian and Chinese soldiers at Galwan Valley in Ladakh on the 15th June, the security had been tightened by both countries. However, other than the initial reaction from the USA, Japan, Germany, and few others, no one backed up either country over this incident. In fact, they were advised to make a truce to maintain peace. That clearly did not happen, as neither India nor China are willing to compromise on this matter. Despite that Donald Trump suggested to be a mediator between these two nations, although he refrained from taking any side. On the other hand, Mike Pompeo, United States Secretary of State said,” The People’s Liberation Army of China has elevated the tension at the Indian border.

China has illegally claimed a large proportion of the surface of the South China Sea. They have also increased the number of soldiers there. Which has caused tension in the area that contains some of the world’s most important shipping lanes.” Meanwhile, Xi Jinping has recently done a virtual conference with Nepal, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The possibility of a war between India and China is concerning for Bangladesh, as both these countries are heavily equipped with nuclear weapons and manpower.

There is also speculation about which side Bangladesh will take if such a situation arises. However, Bangladesh is currently keeping silent on this matter. During these tremulous times, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan has called Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina twice over the course of a year. It was to get Hasina’s support on the Kashmir crisis with India in 2019. However, she refused to meddle in the internal affairs of the neighboring countries. Pakistan has had several wars with India since the partition but shares a cordial alliance with China. Although it is assumed that China has been coercing Pakistan to mend its relationship with Bangladesh.

However, it is evident that Bangladesh will not interfere in the Kashmir issue as that might give China the wrong impression. It is also to be noted that India and Bangladesh’s political alliance has tightened over the course of several decades and through many crucial events. Hence, the decision of Bangladesh ultimately siding with India should not come as a surprise. China has always put forward the narrative of neutral engagement with all countries, which is to improve their political and economic standing. By providing loans to neighboring countries, they make sure to keep these countries under their thumbs. Most of the South East Asian countries rely on China for various reasons, which is something the country exploits to the fullest.

Bangladesh had supported India in their decision to criticize Belt and Road Initiative and boycott BRI Forum’s meeting in 2017 and 2019, despite the political and economic alliance Bangladesh and China share. Bangladesh has been feeling the pressure of being politically correct for the past couple of years. As the Bangladesh Army is equipped with Chinese tanks, its navy has Chinese frigates and missile boats, and the Bangladesh Air Force flies Chinese fighter jets. Additionally, China and Bangladesh had signed a “Defense Cooperation Agreement” in 2002 that includes military training and defense production. Despite that, China has been keeping the Rohingya issue alive for their own benefits despite increasing international pressure.

With India, the alliance runs deeper. Beginning with India’s cooperation and active participation in the war of independence against Pakistan in 1971. Pakistan and India have had a volatile relationship even before that. The two countries have raged war against each other several times. Despite the possibility of a war has decreased considerably, the chances of the relationship improving seems unlikely for several reasons. One of which is Pakistan’s approach towards terrorism and the how it affects India. Another reason for the hostility at present is Pakistan’s dynamic with China. Pakistan was one of the first countries that recognized the People’s Republic of China. In recent years, ongoing military projects and agreements between Pakistan and China have strengthened considerably. These two countries rely on each other economically as well. The fact is that the conflict between China and India will always remain.

However, both China and India are aware that they have the capability of destroying the other country. Even if complete destruction can be avoided, the damage of a war is simply too much. Bangladesh has always prioritized its political alliances more. Hence, it will be interesting to see how the country balances its dynamics with both countries.

Geopolitics of the future would be better off if Bangladesh sticks to cultural ties with India and sees Chinese neo imperialism for what it is.The Kashmir issue is being exploited by Pakistan to put India on back foot, bleeding with a thousand cuts. Also, development in Kashmir is evident, while Pak occupied Kashmir remains in medieval ages. Yet by using fake trumped up allegations of human rights, Pakistan tries a smear campaign against India, which falls flat most times. Simultaneously they keep the pot boiling with terrorism disrupting life in JnK.

Image: Taken from ICE Business Times.


Rumana Rakhi works as a journalist at the Daily Amader Shomoy. Previously worked for the Daily Kalerkonto,  the Daily Bartoman, Arthosuchok. Now lives in UK in exile.

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