Great Power Rivalry in the Indian Ocean Region and Bangladesh: Challenges and Responses

Md. Ali Siddiquee

Assistant Professor, Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka.



The Indian Ocean region (IOR) is historically a contested area among the major Asian and European powers due to a wide variety of geopolitical reasons. Within the broader IOR, the BoB remains the key portal for enhanced bilateral and multilateral engagements. The recent policy initiatives of China, India, USA, Australia and Japan in the IOR and the Bay region specifically indicated growing strategic rivalries. This has serious ramifications for the security and development potentials for Bangladesh. The great powers will try to suggest policy inputs for Bangladesh, the latter may not only will face pressures with regard to policy independence but also be constrained and might succumb possibly to these pressures. Due to the burgeoning rivalry among the great powers, Bangladesh will encounter difficulties in policy independence. Thus, Bangladesh’s preferred policy posture to tackle the great power rivalry should be and in fact has been an independent, non-aligned one. After 50 years of its independence, some domestic sources are seen to highlight Bangladesh’s weakness, outside analysts have underscored Bangladesh’s strengths in courting major great powers. This article shows what challenges are it facing, how it has responded so far, and some recommendations about what it shall continue to carry its legacy of strategic hedging in the coming decades to address the great power rivalry in the Bay.

Keywords: Great power; Geopolitics; Rivalry; Bay of Bengal; Bangladesh; Foreign Policy.


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