Distinguished Professor Ali Riaz has observed that the COVID-19 pandemic crisis has accelerated China’s growing influence in South Asia and it will become more influential in Bangladesh in the post-pandemic situation. He made this observation in a policy paper published by a prominent German think tank, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. The paper titled “Geopolitics of the Pandemic: The Bangladesh Scene” examines the policy options of Bangladesh in the changing geopolitical environment.

Riaz writes, Bangladesh’s efforts to address the impacts of the pandemic—both in terms of public health and economically—have been largely ineffective, although 23 stimulus packages have been declared to date. The Bangladesh government’s non-inclusive governance, endemic corruption, and absence of a long-term perspective on economic recovery continues to hinder the efforts to combat the pandemic, Riaz underscores.

In the past decade, Bangladesh’s geostrategic importance has increased significantly, thanks to the Sino–Indian rivalry in South Asia and the United States–China contestation in the Indian Ocean region. These have placed Bangladesh in both a precarious and advantageous position. Bangladesh has increasingly adopted a hedging posture in its foreign policy in relationship with India and China, although the reliance of the current regime on India for its political fortune and geographical imperatives makes it difficult for the country to adopt a radical realignment path. Bangladesh has four alternatives in moving ahead in the post-COVID-19 global political environment; they are: status quo, muddling through, revising the course or a radical realignment, Riaz said.

Riaz also spoke in a webinar on the launching of the paper organized by the Centre for Governance Studies.