Distinguished Professor Dr. Ali Riaz has published a commentary in the East Asia Forum, a publication of the Australian National University. The commentary titled, “Bangladesh’s democracy erodes amid tilt to China” provides a review of Bangladeshi politics in 2021.

Riaz argues that Bangladesh remained firmly under the grip of the incumbent Bangladesh Awami League in 2021 as it didn’t face any formidable opposition, but the U.S. decision not to invite the country to the Democratic Summit of the White House in December showed that its democracy deficit is noted. The U.S. also imposed sanctions on the elite police force, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), on December 10 for severe human rights violations, including allegations of extrajudicial killings.

Bangladesh is making a gradual tilt towards China, Riaz argues. Throughout 2021, there were sporadic outbursts of anti-government demonstrations, largely in reaction to issues rather than challenging the ruling party’s legitimacy to govern. On the other hand, the government has used the draconian Digital Security Act (DSA) to muzzle dissent.

Referring to the economic growth of the country, Riaz noted that the benefits of good economic growth have become limited to a small group of people, which he says is a matter of alarm.