US-Bangladesh Relations: Assessing the Impact of Recent Developments

US-Bangladesh Relations: Assessing the Impact of Recent Developments

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prothom hello ,

In recent years, China's influence has been increasing around the world including South Asia. Such a phenomenon was reflected in the recent elections in Maldives. After signing the Belt and Road Initiative BRI agreement, China is now keen to sign the Global Development Initiative GDI and Global Security Initiative GSI with Bangladesh. How does the US assess growing Chinese influence in the region?

Donald Lu: We always tell our partners, we don't ask you to choose. We want you to have positive relations with all the countries with which you interact, including China. But we also want your relationships to be normal, relationships not defined by pressure or duress or unusual loan situations. Where we can see that people have good relations and normal relations with China when other countries compete.

I was the US Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic. No one was competing there. Only China was investing in the Kyrgyz Republic. They did some very bad projects, big expensive projects that went nowhere and brought no benefits to the Kyrgyz people. Next door in Kazakhstan, the Western countries – Japan, South Korea, Australia, the United States – we were all competing. The number one investor in Kazakhstan is Holland, number two is the United States. China is at number eight. And when China is number eight, China competes normally. It contains general loans. Ordinary Kazakhs work in its companies, which do not bring in Chinese workers. All I am saying is that for China to be a good partner of Bangladesh, we have to offer competition for investment, for defense equipment, for ideas, for education. The United States would like to compete.

US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Donald Lu
prothom hello

prothom hello ,

How does the United States evaluate the situation in Rakhine and Cox's Bazar and the ongoing conflict between the Myanmar military and resistance forces, particularly with respect to the increased risks of human trafficking, drug trafficking, and terrorism, as well as its impact on the Rohingya? Repatriation and regional security?

Donald Lu: I had the opportunity to visit the Rohingya camp in Cox's Bazar last year and I was really impressed by the experience. This is the largest refugee camp in the world. I am particularly impressed by the generosity and compassion of the Bangladeshi people. You have welcomed one million people into your country. This is a burden for the Bangladeshi people. We want to share that burden. Not only is the United States the largest single donor of assistance to refugees, we also provide assistance to Bangladeshi families living near the refugees. We are committed to continuing and expanding that assistance to ensure that all people in the region—refugees as well as Bangladeshi families—are able to live normal, healthy and safe lives.

We are a little concerned that other donors are not contributing enough money. So we talked to the Foreign Minister and the Foreign Secretary today about how we can work together – the Government of Bangladesh and the United States, to try to go to other places around the world and ask them to contribute to this important effort.

I am worried. I can see violence in Rakhine state. I can see the terrible conditions that exist now in Myanmar. I believe that today it will be very difficult for people to go back safely. The United Nations, and all of us who are part of the UN family, are working very hard to create conditions for the safe return of refugees. Until then, we are asking Bangladesh to be patient and continue supporting this extremely vulnerable population. We had a great discussion today about how we can improve the lives of refugees by providing them with the ability to earn money to support themselves inside the camp, services for other refugees, or handicrafts or something to help them Are. We have also talked about the tents in which they live. How can we make them safer and more durable for the monsoon season? I note the commitment of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government to support these refugees. We are grateful for what they and the Bangladeshi people do every day for refugees.

prothom hello ,

Donald Lu: Thank you too.

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