Bangladesh joined the BRI during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Dhaka in Oct 2016. The initiative aims to rebuild the old Silk Road to connect China with Asia, Europe and beyond through massive infrastructural spending.
Dhaka is also sending a high-profile delegation, including the Minister for Industries Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun and the Prime Minister’s daughter Saima Wazed Hossain, to the summit which will be held between Apr 25 and Apr 28.
However, the initiative has been the subject of controversy in many Western capitals, particularly Washington, which views it as merely a means to spread Chinese influence abroad and trap countries into debt through “nontransparent” projects.
India also opted against joining the BRI citing concerns over China’s projects with Pakistan. Some analysts say India is not comfortable with Bangladesh’s joining the initiative.
But the prime minister’s adviser did not respond to a question on the matter at the launch of the ‘The Belt and Road’ magazine.
In his speech, he said Bangladesh had been in favour of the initiative even before its announcement.
“We had our own BCIM (Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar Economic Corridor) which is essentially a reduced version of the Belt and Road Initiative,” he said.
“Bangladesh is extremely successful in managing its foreign relations,” added Gowher.
“It has always avoided taking sides,” he said, referring to the foreign policy dictum ‘friendship to all, malice to none’.
He continued: “We’ll continue to maintain that. If you look objectively, today Bangladesh’s foreign policy has had spectacular success through its ability to maintain outstanding relations with China, India, Japan, Soviet Union, United States and western European countries.”
Gowher said that this has helped Bangladesh to become what it is today.
“Bangladesh has become a model of development and innovation.”
Former ambassador Muhammad Azizul Haque, Professor of International Relations at Dhaka University Delwar Hossain, and Executive Director of CEAF Nasim Mahmmud spoke at the programme, chaired by former ambassador Selina Mohsin.
Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of China in Dhaka Chen Wei was also present at the event.