Home COMMENTARIES Three Complex Challenges for the Future Foreign Relations of Bangladesh

Three Complex Challenges for the Future Foreign Relations of Bangladesh


By Swadesh Roy

As the New Year’s aroma fills the air, Bangladesh embarks on a new governmental journey in a complex and globally significant election year. This year, the trajectory of foreign policy will be pivotal. The government of Bangladesh was elected with two critical factors for the election-  international relations and the continuity of a stable government. Foreign policy played a significant role in shaping the election’s outcome, highlighting its importance in maintaining the government and fostering international relations.

The term ‘stability’ was frequently used in the lead-up to the Bangladesh election. For many political analysts and commentators, ‘stability’ signifies political tranquility in Bangladesh. In this context, ‘stability’ means the uninterrupted operation of the government, the absence of political turmoil, control over Islamic fundamentalism, and the capacity to maintain consistent policies, both domestically and in terms of foreign relations. It also encompasses managing economic fluctuations, ensuring social harmony, and upholding the rule of law.

Bangladesh is not only a Muslim-majority country like Pakistan and Afghanistan in South Asia but also a country that plays a pivotal role in the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, the Indo-Pacific policy of QUAD, and the easy connectivity with its neighboring India. Geopolitically, it is not like the small neighboring countries often found at the mercy of mighty big neighbors. Instead, it holds significant importance in the present dividing world.

Bangladesh’s geopolitical significance arises from its involvement in major international initiatives such as the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative and the Indo-Pacific policy of QUAD. This importance will continue to grow through an intelligent foreign policy that ensures sustainable and realistic economic, defense, and people-to-people relations while upholding the rights of its citizens. It is well-known that the strength of a relatively small and economically challenged country lies in liberalism for its people.

Today, technology and affordable air travel have brought people and countries closer than ever. However, the policies of major powers continue to evolve in slightly new forms. This new form, which emerged after the end of the Second World War, replaced direct economic colonization with a new form of significant power. Although now maintained under the guise of a market economy, this system has existed since ancient times, evolving with technological advancements. Hence, the pressure for commodity sources and connectivity in the context of a market economy colony is nothing new.

In the Bangladesh election, international players played that card, and the head of the government of Bangladesh understood it accurately. Still, her opponent thought it was about promoting democracy and people-to-people connections. This is why the ruling party of Bangladesh had an easy opportunity to conduct the election without facing stiff opposition. Considering the nature of the election, the foremost thought is that in the coming days, Bangladesh must navigate a turbulent sea in foreign policy.

It is true that in the next five years, any change in the leadership of two major economic powers in the world, China and America, will not significantly alter the Asian strategic landscape. Therefore, the country will not face challenging paths due to Bangladesh’s geopolitical position in foreign policy. There is a common belief that Russian aggression in Ukraine and the conflict between Israel and Palestine will have a crucial impact on oil prices, affecting the economy and foreign policy of many small economies like Bangladesh. However, beyond these two conflicts, oil consumption will be an even more critical factor in increasing oil prices. International politics, especially geopolitical tensions and wars, significantly affect global geopolitics, impacting Bangladesh’s economy. This underscores the need for a well-crafted foreign policy to navigate these challenges and maintain economic growth.

At the same time, China has emerged as the most significant player. China’s Belt and Road initiative and other economic interests not only involve Asian countries but also create situations where African and North American countries consume more energy, leading to an automatic increase in oil prices. In this oil price game, America and the West must strive to keep the ball in their court. The Bangladesh government will face one of its main challenges when this game begins. Bangladesh has already embarked on large-scale infrastructure development, with many of the projects claimed by China as part of its Belt and Road initiative. Consequently, Bangladesh must cooperate with China for its development; otherwise, the current development momentum may be hindered, leading to increased energy consumption.

Bangladesh has started buying gas and electricity from India to address energy concerns. One of India’s gas sources is Russia, and it is evident that as long as Putin remains in power, his aggressive Ukraine policy will persist. Therefore, any change in US leadership through the next election in November of this year is unlikely to result in a shift in the foreign policy of the US and the West. This has been evident in the context of China during Trump’s tenure. Despite this, Russia’s foreign policy can sometimes strain Bangladesh’s relations with the West. In this context, Russia is seeking to expand its business with Bangladesh.

These three aspects will become more complex in the coming days. In the Bangladesh election, China and India found themselves on the same side, and the outcome of this game was a mathematical calculation. However, India will remain wary of China’s expansion in the Belt and Road initiative in Bangladesh, and it will adjust its neighborhood policy accordingly. On the other hand, China will assert itself through its wolf-warrior diplomacy. Additionally, Russian policies can cause friction with the West. While the West supported India’s ‘Stability’ policy during the Bangladesh election, it remains uncertain whether the West will view India’s Russian policy in the same light.

Despite these challenges, Bangladesh must expand its development projects, align with its neighbors’ policies, and strive to maintain a favorable position with Russia to avoid straining relations with the West. Despite their independence, collaboration with institutions like the World Bank and IMF will aid Bangladesh in navigating its foreign policy and Indo-Pacific strategy smoothly.


Swadesh Roy is the Chairman of  Look Asia.

Also, a National award-winning journalist and Editor from Dhaka, Bangladesh.


  1. I think this article is positive to deal with the current world situation and the geopolitical ambitions of the superpowers surrounding Bangladesh with patience, prudence and courage.


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