Chinese notions embarrassing for the nation
September 8th, 2020 at 5:20 pm
Chinese notions embarrassing for the nation

by Shoeb Chowdhury in Dhaka ,

Chinese Embassy in Dhaka has recently regretted sending gifts to Begum Khaleda Zia marking her false and controversial birthday on 15 August. China sent gifts to Khaleda Zia on this date in the past too. China should have realized long ago that it was a fake birthday and it hurts the patriotic people of Bangladesh because the martyrdom of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family members took place on this date in 1975.  

History shows that China opposed the independence of Bangladesh while the glorious Liberation War of 1971 was going on. China has always been the closest ally to Pakistan. Thus getting closer to China ideologically contradicts with the essence of 1971.

China even did not recognize Bangladesh while Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was alive. China acknowledged Bangladesh on 31st August 1975 after Bangabandhu was assassinated. China even opposed Bangladesh’s membership in the United Nations by applying veto power. For all these reasons notions about China have put the people of Bangladesh in a state of embarrassment. China should clarify its stance over Bangladesh, particularly why China turned against Bangladesh during the historical incidents described above.

Rohingya repatriation has become a far cry due to non-cooperation from Myanmar. Analysts have remarked that Myanmar is patted on its back by China which is why Myanmar is showing utmost audacity regarding the Rohingya crisis. Cooperation from China and all other concerned countries are required to make sure that the Rohingya can go back to their motherland and reside there with safety.

Bangladesh Rohingya refugee
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingay Muslims crossed into Bangladesh fleeing violence in Myanmar. Most of them are children. They are tired, exhausted and hungry, but no way to hold back -This photo was taken by Nazrul Islam in early September 2017

Geopolitical experts have frequently said that China’s financial intrigues have put different countries into trouble including Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives, Sudan, Malaysia, Kenya, Zimbabwe etcetera. Chinese companies have enhanced corruption and irregularities in many countries. Chinese debt traps have highly increased the expenses of infrastructural projects in several countries.

Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port is now under Chinese control following Sri Lanka’s failure to comply with the austere terms and conditions of Chinese loans, different news agencies have meanwhile unveiled this report. 

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has been charged with big corruption cases involving Chinese financial deals. Mahathir Mohamad therefore halted nearly all the Chinese projects in Malaysia after coming back to power in 2018.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina joined the summit of World Economic Forum in Dalian in China in July 2019. While answering a question at the summit she asserted that she would not allow Bangladesh to fall into debt traps. We trust the assurance of Sheikh Hasina. Bangladesh should abstain from entertaining Chinese financial schemes as Chinese debts have the likelihood of putting Bangladesh’s economy in insurmountable cataclysms.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) strategy aims to augment Chinese influence across South Asia according to foreign affairs experts. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has meanwhile instigated financial and administrative perils in Pakistan. Economists hold the opinion that tying up with China often brings about hazardous circumstances.

A great deal of Pakistani people appeared to be much annoyed after they came to know about the outline of CPEC plan through some newspapers published from Karachi, Islamabad and other major Pakistani cities. A huge portion of CPEC is supposed to be carried out by Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) which belongs to Chinese Defense Ministry. Conscious citizens of Pakistan and the country’s civil society members are worried about the probable direct intervention of Chinese defense authorities with Pakistan’s internal affairs if CPEC comes into effect.

On the other hand, Xinjiang’s Muslim inhabitants often get into conflicts with Chinese law and order forces. From this point of view Xinjiang’s involvement with Pakistan’s industrial and infrastructural projects has already triggered anxiety among the civilians of Pakistan living in the concerned areas. Moreover, China’s atrocities on the Uighur Muslims have already hit news headlines.

Chinese consortium has caused staggering losses to Karachi Stock Exchange. Share prices have steeply gone down in Bangladeshi stock markets too for which economists have blamed Chinese consortium.

Bangladesh is already struggling to get rid of corruption in the financial arena while Chinese stratagems are most likely to put us in further economic pitfalls if Bangladesh government does not wake up right now. It is essential to get all projects properly assessed by globally acknowledged consultancy firms.

In 2018, Myanmar renegotiated the terms of an agreement for a deep seaport in Rakhine State, which critics said ran the risk of ending up in Chinese hands because of a high debt load. Human rights groups also condemned the project for trampling on the rights of local populations. The Myanmar government has also ducked out of Chinese financial schemes for some projects to avoid extravagant expenses. Thus a situation has come up which calls for red alert against Chinese loans.

China should extend a friendly approach, not an adverse one, to other countries in terms of infrastructural projects and financial bids. China signed loan agreements of 24 billion dollars with Bangladesh back in 2016 but so far only 5% of that money has been disbursed.

Former President Ziaur Rahman initiated and expanded Bangladesh’s diplomatic ties with China after the killing of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Ziaur Rahman’s political views were to a great extent identical to the concept of Communist Party of China. A great number of politicians who believed in Chinese communism packed hands with Ziaur Rahman and joined Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) after 1975.

Major Ziaur Rahman
Slain army-general turned Bangladeshi president

In the same way the anti-independence platforms of Bangladesh also like China. The anti-liberation groups are always trying to distance Bangladesh from India politically. Extending intimacy with China will empower the radical Islamic wings in Bangladesh. It should be remembered that India widely cooperated with Bangladesh during 1971. Nearly 20 million Bangladeshi refugees took shelter in India during the Liberation War. Many Indian soldiers got killed while fighting for Bangladesh’s independence.

Pakistan should apologize to the people of Bangladesh for violating human rights and killing innocent men, women and children during the war of 1971. In the same way the Chinese government should officially regret for not giving recognition to Bangladesh while Bangabandhu was alive and for opposing the independence of Bangladesh while the Liberation War of 1971 was going on.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman envisioned a Bangladesh free of corruption. Bangladesh became independent under the peerless leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been working with high diligence and utmost devotion to transform Bangladesh into a prosperous country by materializing Vision 2021 and Vision 2041. Corruption obstructs development. Therefore, the government should fight corruption with an iron hand. Corruption and prosperity cannot move ahead at a time. So, if the government wants to expedite development, then corruption will have to be wiped out. Simultaneously, the government will have to remain cautious so that Chinese debt traps cannot paralyze our economy.

The writer is a diplomat, entrepreneur, author and Chairman of Editorial Board of The Asian Age