Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, now in Washington, has explained Bangladesh's engagements with India and China noting that Bangladesh's foreign policy, like the US one, is all about national interests.
He also shared historical background shedding light on the two different roles that India and China played during the War of Liberation in 1971.
The foreign minister answered a number of questions at a programme titled "A conversation with Bangladesh's Foreign Minister" on the lessons learned from the last 50 years and the path ahead for US-Bangladesh relations hosted by United States Institute of Peace (USIP) on Tuesday.
President and CEO of the USIP Lise Grande delivered opening remarks at the event moderated by Ambassador Teresita Schaffer.
As the Biden administration implements its Indo-Pacific strategy, Bangladesh's relationships with neighbouring India and China suggest that it will draw increasing interest from US policymakers, according to USIP.
"We've rock-solid relations with India," Momen said, adding that Bangladesh can never forget the support of India and its people during the 1971 War of Liberation.
He, however, said Bangladesh needs more resources to develop the country further while India does not have that much resource to share.
"We need to help develop our economy and they (China) have a basket of money. China came with a basket of money with affordable and aggressive proposals," Momen said, claiming that Bangladesh is very prudent in receiving credit and China is helping Bangladesh in building some mega projects.
The FM said even India borrows from China though they do not have good relations. "This is a very strange world."
He said India and China have their own problems and Bangladesh does not intervene on those issues. "We maintain a non-partisan relationship."
Momen also said the USA might have difficulties with China but Bangladesh only relates to China for its development efforts. "In the area of democracy and human rights, we don't compromise."
Responding to a question on Bangladesh-US relations, the foreign minister referred to two letters of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and US President Joe Biden and said these two letters tell the story of partnership between Dhaka and Washington.
"The drive, resourcefulness, and innovation of Bangladeshis – rebuilding after the 1971 War of Liberation and now forging a path of economic growth and development – serve as a model for the rest of the world," Momen quoted from Biden's letter sent to Hasina.
He said once Bangladesh was known as bottomless basket with no hope of survival. "Pakistani occupants destroyed our economy. We didn't have much resources."
After 50 years, Momen said, they feel proud to say that Bangladesh is a vibrant economy and is now a land of opportunity.
Things have changed because of hard-working, dynamic and resilient people of Bangladesh, the foreign minister said, adding that, "Last 12 years, we made a miracle over 6 percent growth under the prudent leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina."
He credited leadership's commitment and targeted approaches and the spirit of the people given by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who wanted to build Sonar Bangla, a prosperous Bangladesh.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of relations between the United States and Bangladesh. Over the past five decades, Bangladesh and the United States have developed a complex relationship that spans economic and security ties as well as transnational issues like climate change.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bangladesh had boasted a decade of impressive economic growth, and the United States remains the top destination for Bangladesh's exports.