A daylong International Conference titled “China, India & the United States in Bangladesh: Cultivating Competitive Cooperation” was implemented on February 23, 2017 at the own campus of Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB) in Bashundhara, Dhaka. The Conference was organized by the Global Studies & Governance (GSG) Program at IUB. In the Inaugural Session of the Conference, US Ambassador to Bangladesh, Ms. Marcia Bernicat was present as Chief Guest. Ms. Bernicat stated that “all India, China and the United States share the goal of a prosperous, safe and stable society for Bangladesh. USA recognize that helping Bangladesh meet its own ambitious development goals will require the good ideas and resources of more than a single country. The United States welcomes development and economic assistance from other countries and international organizations”. “A key issue is ensuring fair and transparent rules”, the US Ambassador emphasized.
Mr. Kunzang N. Tshering, Director, BIMSTEC, Bangladesh also spoke on the occasion along with former Ambassador Dr. Salehuddin Ahmed, Adjunct Professor of IUB and former Pro-Vice Chancellor of BRAC University. Welcome speech was delivered by Mr. Rashed Chowdhury, Chairman, Board of Trustees, IUB, Prof. M. Omar Rahman, Vice Chancellor, IUB; Prof. Milan Pagon, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Designate), Dr. Mahbub Alam, Dean, School of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, IUB; Dr. Md. Abdul Khaleque, Dean, School of Environmental Science and Management, IUB and Dr. Imtiaz A. Hussain, Head of GSG Program also spoke on the occasion. Mr. Abdul Hai Sarker, Chairman, ESTCDT gave formal vote of thanks upon conclusion of inaugural session.
For middle-income membership, Bangladesh requires enormous infrastructural investments in various sectors from foreign countries and corporations. At the same time, Bangladesh needs to take care of the exploding consumer needs: from automobiles, ships, to solar panels, increasingly high-end garments and pharmaceutical products, not to mention more food, fuel and fiber. Bangladesh needs to be cautious of protecting environment, women, farmers and minority groups against full-blooded market competition; dissipating security concerns; balancing infrastructural project distribution between crisscrossing Chinese, Japanese and US interests, among others; and attracting others in Southeast Asia, South Korea, Europe, or across Latin America, to come, create, and cultivate opportunities opened by this transformation. These themes, through three working sessions of the daylong Conference, were reflected in eleven insightful papers presented by renowned academics and researchers of national and international institutions that include Dr. Francisco Haro Navejas and Professor Cristina Tapia Muro from University of Colima, Mexico; Dr. Syed Mahmud Ali, formerly Associate, East Asia International Affairs Program, London School of Economics, IDEAS; former ambassador Mr. Munshi Faiz Ahmad, director, Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies; Mr. Ashfaqur Rahman, former ambassador to China; and Major General Muhammad Ashab Uddin, former ambassador to Kuwait/Yemen.
Former State Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Abul Hasan Chowdhury, Executive Director of Center for Policy Dialogue Dr. Mustafizur Rahman, Executive Director of Research Initiatives Dr. Meghna Guhathakurta and former Ambassador to USA Mr. M. Humayun Kabir moderated different sessions and put their valuable remarks based on their long experience.
During the closing session, eminent citizens shared their first-hand experiences and expressed views on how Bangladesh can maintain and nurture important strategic relations with USA, China, India to prosper. All papers presented throughout the day were reviewed thoroughly and a comprehensive “plan of action” was developed eventually. There was also a widespread questions-answers session during the closing session. Foreign and local diplomats, academics, policymakers, educationists, researchers, members from faculty and administration of IUB and students attended the Conference throughout the day.