Strategic importance of the “balancing capacity” of the Bay of Bengal and Bangladesh
The name “Bay of Bengal” is a source of pride for the Bengalis! Big cities like Madras (Chennai), Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar, in all regions or states, are located on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, but the sea does not bear their name. Again, it was not named after a region like the Arabian Sea, but after Bengal or Bengal. That is why the world should remember the name Bengal from time to time. In the middle of Myanmar, the Andaman Islands, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the vast territory of South India, the 2.162 million square kilometer reservoir is named after Bengal. It is known to the world as the Bay of Bengal.
The Bay of Bengal has today become the center of international politics because of its economic and strategic importance, but in fact it extends to the depths of Sri Lanka. It is the busiest international sea route in the world. About 40,000 ships ply this route each year. Half of the world’s merchant and oil tankers use this route.
Looking at the image of the Bay of Bengal, it is clear that its northern limit has formed a parallel belt. It is as if a country has a water map in its taxpayer and has expanded its exterior. The two camps outside gradually grew and ended in Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. On the other side, the Andaman Islands merge with Sumatra from Myanmar and turn right to join Sri Lanka. Cox’s Bazar, the largest beach in the world, the Sundarbans, the largest unbroken mangrove forest, and one of the world’s most delicious fish species, the habitat of hilsa, are linked and associated with the Bay of Bengal.
The ports on the shores of the Bay of Bengal bear the imprint of political, religious and economic tensions over the centuries. From Antiquity to the Middle Ages, Arab traders and missionaries flocked to the port on the shores of the Bay of Bengal via the Arabian Sea. After Vasco da Gama discovered the Bay of Bengal, Portuguese, French, Danish, Dutch and English companies began to come from Europe. They built the offices and forts of their respective companies on the shores of the Bay of Bengal. From this time began the conflict between European merchants and Indian kings. Towards the end of this conflict, the British East India Company built its two-and-a-half-year empire in India.
Now the Bay of Bengal is attracting the attention of world powers. The United States, United Kingdom, China, India and Japan have focused their attention on the “Bay of Bengal”. This is the strategy. The United States changed its policy from “Asia-Pacific” to “Indo-Pacific” to counter China’s “BRI”. Both sides want Bangladesh to be part of their respective blocs.
In this regard, Bangladesh is handling this issue in a tactical manner. This avoids getting involved directly in the blocks. Despite a request from the United States for years, Bangladesh has shown no interest in signing the ACSA (Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement) and GSOMIA (General Security of Military Information Agreement) with the United States. On the other hand, when the Chinese envoy to Bangladesh said that Bangladesh should not join IPS this year, Bangladesh strongly protested against the Chinese envoy’s remarks that Bangladesh is capable of shaping its own policy. national. This is the capacity of Bangladesh. Basically, Bangladesh doesn’t like controversy with anyone. Its goal is very simple and clear, which is friendship for all, mischief for no one. Bangladesh wants and loves to move forward with all regional and global players.
The Bay of Bengal was historically important. Due to geopolitics, its importance has increased since the 1980s. Bangladesh is an important player in this geopolitics. The current government pursued a policy of maintaining good relations with all Indo-Pacific countries, avoiding conflicts. And because of the balance, Bangladesh is an active partner of the US IPS as well as the BIS of China. Basically, Bangladesh is showing the rest of the countries in the region how to simultaneously balance with the great powers. Its balancing capacity is truly commendable and exemplary for many countries. The United States, Japan, Australia and India have formed a “QUAD” to counter China’s “BRI”
Bangladesh policy is not geared towards bipartisan international politics. Bangladesh was an active member of the “Non-Aligned Movement”. Bangladesh has neither the intention nor the interest to join a bloc. But Bangladesh intends to take advantage of the blocks. Bangladesh wants and believes in peaceful coexistence in the region. It always avoids any kind of confrontation with any actor. Despite Myanmar’s provocations during the Rohingya refugee crisis in 2017, it refrained from using any form of force. Bangladesh knows the Strategy. Bangladesh is in balance with “BRI” and “IPS”. Bangladesh exploits “the strategic importance of the Bay of Bengal”. Bangladesh
Whether Bangladesh is involved in the US-led Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) or the China-led Belt and Road (BRI), it must maintain peace and the rule of law in the maritime region to derive maximum economic benefit from the bay. from Bengal. Bangladesh needs to acquire natural resources as well as the capacity to fish for deep-sea fish. If possible, it will pave the way for Bangladesh to earn huge amounts of foreign currency, just like fish and mineral clothing.
The port plays an important role for connectivity. Bangladesh has three seaports. But due to depth constraints, large ships (mother ships) are still not able to accommodate. Establishing a deep water port at Matarbari in Cox Bazaar in collaboration with Japan will solve this problem and reduce the cost of transporting goods. According to Bangladeshi media reports, Bangladesh trades around $ 9,000 crore per year by sea. Four thousand five hundred foreign vessels transport these imported and exported goods to Bangladesh. And Bangladesh has to pay around $ 900 crore each year for chartering these vessels. Bangladesh has only 60 ships to transport goods at sea. In this case, Bangladesh is sorely lacking in capacity. Bangladesh needs to increase its capacity.
Bangladesh’s maritime border is 118,000 square kilometers. On the other hand, if we add all the rivers and haors (a kind of pond coming from and connected to the rivers) of Bangladesh, it amounts to 15,000 kilometers. Bangladesh needs training, education and infrastructure to increase its capacity to extract resources from this vast ocean. Currently, Bangladesh has a maritime university, an oceanographic department and an oceanographic research center. These institutions should also come forward to develop education in this sector.
Drug trafficking, piracy in the Straits of Malacca and pollution from ships or land destroy the marine environment. Effective measures can be taken to address these crises jointly through the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). made changes to the Maritime Law of 1974. THE Maritime Economy Unit was set up. In addition, an action plan for the maritime economy has been adopted. Bangladesh wants to join the “Colombo Security Conclave” now. Its objective is to fight against the maritime threat.
Japan attaches great importance to a free and open Indo-Pacific region. Bangladesh is one of the partners of the Japanese Big-B initiative around the Bay of Bengal. Within this framework, Matarbari in Maheshkhali will be transformed into a hub for the import and export of electricity and energy, industry and the sea. The Rohingya crisis could lead to instability in the region. Thus, Japan should play an important role in the event of the repatriation of the Rohingya, which is a lasting solution to this crisis.
The Bay of Bengal was historically important. Due to geopolitics, its importance has increased since the 1980s. Bangladesh is an important player in this geopolitics. The current government pursued a policy of maintaining good relations with all Indo-Pacific countries, avoiding conflicts. And because of the balance, Bangladesh is an active partner of the US IPS as well as the BIS of China. Basically, Bangladesh is showing the rest of the countries in the region how to simultaneously balance with the great powers. Its balancing capacity is truly commendable and exemplary for many countries. The United States-Japan-Australia-India formed a “QUAD” to counter China’s “BRI”.