Dr Ali Riaz, distinguished professor at Illinois State University, has said Bangladesh's policy should be determined in line with the changes in geopolitics consequent upon the Covid-19 pandemic.
He was speaking at a webinar on the theme, "Geopolitics of the Pandemic- The Bangladesh Scene", arranged by the Center for Governance Studies (CGS) on Saturday, said a press release.
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Bangladesh office representative Felix Kolbitz, Center for Policy Dialogue executive director Dr Fahmida Khatun, Professor at the Department of International Relations, Dhaka University Amena Mohsin, Shushasoner Jonyo Nagorik (SUJAN) Secretary Dr Badiul Alam Majumder and former Election Commissioner Brigadier General (Retd) Dr M Sakhawat Hossain were present as speakers at the webinar.
Felix Kolbitz said FES is working in Bangladesh to accelerate sustainable socio-economic development. To this end, the organisation has at different times been arranging various seminars, training programmes and policy dialogues in Bangladesh.
At the invitation of the FES, Professor Ali Riaz wrote an analytical paper on what could be done in these changed times. Later, he summarized his analytical paper, "Geopolitics of the Pandemic- The Bangladesh Scene," at the webinar.
Bangladesh has four alternatives in moving ahead in the post-Covid-19 global political environment: status quo, muddling through, revising the course or a radical realignment, Ali Riaz said.
Though Bangladesh's relationship with United States remains steady, the Bangladesh–China relationship has warmed up quite significantly in recent years, he further said.
He stressed maintaining equal relations with all countries, through which it is possible to have equal opportunities with all countries. He also spoke of the possibility of a radical realignment.
A triangular power contestation in South Asia—between China, India and the United States—is already in play and will influence policy choices before the government of Bangladesh, Ali Riaz added.
Agreeing with Ali Riaz, Professor Amena Mohsin said the world has been witnessing polarization due to the pandemic, the consequence being a failure of the effectiveness of organisations like the United Nations.
She said Bangladesh is in a critical position for India, China and the United States due to its geographical and strategic location. However, she ruled out the question of a radical realignment.
Mentioning that Bangladesh's dependence on China will increase, Dr Fahmida Khatun stressed collaboration- cooperation and partnership relations with all countries.
Referring to Bangladesh's failure in vaccine politics, Dr Sakhawat Hossain said the country has failed to get Covid-19 vaccine as it is dependent on only one country. In order to tide over this problem, Bangladesh needs to coordinate with more than one country.
Referring to the crises brought on by the pandemic, Badiul Alam Majumder emphasised the need for concerted efforts to overcome such crises.
Taking part in the open discussion, former state minister for foreign affairs Abul Hasan Chowdhury said Bangladesh should adopt a geopolitical policy considering the reality of its economy. It was his belief that in the near future, China will play a major role in geopolitics vis-a-vis Bangladesh.
Former Ambassador M Shafiullah expressed his concern over how Bangladesh can maintain equal and balanced relations with both India and China.
Bangladesh will never be able to maintain equal relations with all countries. Rather, the country should maintain such relations with all nations that will ensure that its interests and sovereignty remain protected, he added.