The KRF Centre for Bangladesh and Global Affairs (CBGA) has organized an International Seminar on “How China Engages South Asia: Themes, Partners, and Tools” on July 12, 2023, at the CBGA Conference and Dialogue Room in Dhaka. The Seminar was presided over by Professor Dr. Delwar Hossain while the keynote presentations were delivered by two renowned Indian scholars, Constantino Xavier and Jabin T. Jacob from the Centre for Social and Economic Progress (CSEP), New Delhi, India.
The Seminar has presented the findings of a research project on China’s role in South Asia conducted by India’s CSEP based on eight case studies, including Bangladesh. The Seminar is of great significance in the context of Ukraine War and geopolitics at global scale. Speakers highlighted different aspects of China’s growing role in South Asia covering a range of sectors including education, public diplomacy, technology, social media, civil society, party politics, religion, and governance.
The keynote speakers observed that after several decades of limited engagement, China has rapidly deepened and diversified its relations with India and its neighbouring countries. They argued that China’s objective is two-fold: to encourage policies that are favourable for itself, and to pre-empt decisions that would go against its core interests. Participants also emphasized that China became increasingly influential beyond just trade and other economic ties with South Asia.
The chair of the seminar, Professor Delwar Hossain, observed that South Asia has become a critically important region in the current world where both China and India should play a constructive role. The engagement is the best approach to create win-win situation in the region. The unique position of South Asia must be understood to explain the engagements of great powers such as China. Professor Delwar argues that there should be more exchange and interactions of epistemic communities in South Asia. The seminar was addressed among others by leading experts in Bangladesh, including Air Cdre (Retd) Ishfaq Ilahi Choudhury, Mr. Abu Salah Md. Yousuf of BIISS, Aynul Islam, Brig Gen (Retd.) Sakhawat Hussain, Ambassador A K M Atiqur Rahman, Ambassador Shahidul Haque, Mainul Alam, and Brig Gen (Rtd) Hasan Md. Shamsuddin.