Biden’s Victory and Geopolitics of the Subcontinent

Jayanta Ghosal

30 November, 2020 12:00 AM printer

Breaking a long silence, Chinese President Xi Jinping has finally congratulated Joe Biden for his victory in the US election. Simultaneously, in his congratulatory message to Biden he expressed his optimism of a cordial and long-lasting relationship between China and the USA. Xi Jinping has stated that promoting a warm and sustainable relationship is not only desirable for the basic interest of the people of the two countries, but it also fulfils common hopes and aspirations of international quarters. In his congratulatory message, Xi Jinping further informed that it is his expectation that both the sides will keep aloft the moral value of No War, No Conflict policy. On the basis of mutual respect and protecting the interest of both sides, the two would probably cooperate with each other. Apart from this, I think both will give due emphasis on cooperation by restraining them from going into conflict and mitigating it. 

During the tenure of Donald Trump, the Sino-US tie reached a stage of extreme animosity. Centering issues like trade war and spread of coronavirus in an epidemic form, Donald Trump labeled China as an enemy. Over different issues, including the Hong Kong one, the bilateral ties of the two countries reached its bottom. However, China remained silent although it knew about the victory of Biden.

Breaking silence, Xi Jinping finally congratulated Biden on Wednesday. The day Biden announced that he has staged a comeback with an objective to ensure the interest of the whole world, not merely of the US. Incidentally, Xi Jinping sent his congratulatory message after this announcement. Actually, many things depend on the Sino-US ties in South Asia.

Bangladesh is a small country, but it is sensitive and important. Bangladesh is a privileged state because of its geographical and strategic location. After the victory of Biden, we must keep a watch on the Sino-Indian ties. Just in the same way, it is also important to observe the US-Bangladesh relations in South Asia. To India also, the relationship of Biden with Bangladesh is very relevant and important too. India has kept a watch on the developments.

Michael Kugelman is the Chief Director of Washington-based agency- The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He oversees the Asian affairs. At the same time, he is a senior researcher on South Asian affairs. He has given an interview to the Kaler Kantho. Reading the interview, I have come to know that it is the observation of Kugelman that Trump did not give that importance to Bangladesh as it deemed. Still, there is no guarantee that Biden would give due importance to the country. It is Kugelman’s observation that Bangladesh might lag behind the list of priority that Biden is contemplating. However, I think it might be otherwise. From my 35 years of experience in journalism I can say that Biden might not go for open conflict with China what Trump had done. Although Democrats are not that much extremist like that of Republicans, they are also not so optimistic about Chinese war strategy or foreign policy or its attitude towards the US. To keep China under pressure, Biden needs a vast country like India having a major market. Michael Kugelman has significantly stated that Biden may not compromise over human rights and migrant issues as those are related to the interest of the US. Election of two Senate members is yet to be held in the first quarter of January what is very important. This is because, at the moment, the balance of Senate majority and minority is vacillating. Democrats can claim their majority if they win the two seats.

Recently, a massive 800-page autobiography of former US President Barak Obama has been released. There, he discussed, in detail, about Indian leadership under Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi or Manmohan Singh. Centering these, many news stories have been published in newspapers. He mentioned about his first state visit to China as the US President. He has narrated his vivid experience in the book. His and his party’s attitude towards China is very much negative. In the book, he has described that his plane had just landed. Instantly, a directive came to leave all mobiles and computers inside the plane. It means that a US President had to keep those at ‘Air Force One’ aircraft. It was informed that China would monitor the mobiles and Apps. The personnel who were responsible for housekeeping in the hotel suite used to look after the files. They watched the papers. A member of the team of Obama’s representatives observed the scenes. All of a sudden, they entered into the hotel suite and pretended that nothing happened and started changing towels and other things of the washrooms. But, when the US representative asked them what they were observing, they kept mum. Obama wrote that their rooms remained under watch through cameras. As to why, many of the US team members got squeezed and kept the rooms and bathrooms dark. It was done so that none can watch the bath scene. Again he mentioned about another member who was his secretary. He said that as a mark of protest, he remained naked at his room. He used to take bath keeping lights on.

Obama stated that China is engaged in spreading lies and sending their commodities through illegal means to capture the market. But, Obama also stressed on No War, No Conflict policy.  According to him, without openly mentioning the issues of conflict, efforts should be made for minimising the difference of opinions. It should be done so that the people of the world do not get a message that America is a war monger or it wants to go for war. As Obama and Biden belong to the same party, Biden’s war strategy might match with that of Obama. We must remember that China is still fueling for establishing supremacy over others. In an effort to build its army as a world class one, China is trying to take help of improved technology. With this objective, Beijing has also set a target of 2027. In a meeting of the Central Military Commission of China, President Xi Jinping announced that a new policy would have to be formulated for training of Chinese soldiers. Just after this development, a rumour went rife in the international arena regarding what was the country being warned by the Chinese President? The day he congratulated the newly elected US President Biden, on the very same day, a section of US experts have informed that Xi Jinping is moving forward to rebuild his army at par with the US army. He has also increased the expenditure in military sector. In 2019, the administration of Xi Jinping had spent US$ 232 billion in its defence sector what has not been decreased during the coronavirus pandemic.

Experts are also worried about another issue. That is, Xi Jinping has opined for further improved strategic planning to prepare all units of Chinese military to go for war in a collective manner. Much before this, Xi Jinping gave directives to Chinese army to take all-out preparations on an emergency basis when a probable war was imminent with Washington over the issue of Taiwan’s independence, establishing supremacy in South China Sea and trade war. Afterwards, China made its ‘Monster Bomb’ to counter the ‘Mother of All Bombs’ of the US. The ‘Monster Bomb’ has a capacity of destruction close to the nuclear bomb. The Chinese President’s statement came at a time when dialogues are going on at Sino-Indian military level to restore peace in Ladakh. India is observing the influences of this comment of Xi Jinping.

In such a situation, Bangladesh being a sensitive strategic state deserves importance not only from India, but also from the US. In this international scenario, it seems that the US will give due importance to Bangladesh.      


The writer is a senior journalist of India.

Translated by Z A M Khairuzzaman.