China: The Regional Economic Godfather

In short, the ‘India-First’ policy introduced by Ex-President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is rapidly converting into ‘India-Out’ policy; and all credit of this revolutionary shift no doubt goes to President Muizzu.

by Ali Sukhanver
By keeping a vigilant eye on the things happening around, the Opposition in the Parliament, in fact, saves the system from going to the wrong direction. No doubt a strong political check on the ruling party by the opposition always plays a positive role in reformation of a society. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is no doubt fulfilling all its responsibilities as an opposition party in a befitting manner. In the last few months, the BNP has added a lot to its vote-bank by leading the India Out campaign in the country. It is the passionate working of the BNP that this campaign is getting speedy popularity in Bangladesh. Different social media platforms are replete with slogans advocating the boycott of Indian products in Bangladesh with hashtags such as India Out, and Boycott India. The people of Bangladesh have realized that they could survive very well even if there is no India in their country. Under the garb of trade and business projects, the Indian interference in Bangladesh is becoming more and more painful for the people of this country. It has been mentioned so many times in the Bangladesh media that Indian border guards are continuously involved in border killing of Bangladeshi people. There have been reports of aiding illegal immigrants, helping armed dacoits, transferring fake money and trafficking of illegal drugs in Bangladesh by the Indian troops deployed at the border. The government is very well aware of this Indian ‘insurgency’ but the Prime Minister Hasina Wajid doesn’t want to annoy the Modi Sarkar by taking to task the culprits involved in all this rubbish.

Chinese President Xi Jinping holds a welcoming ceremony for President of the Republic of Maldives Mohamed Muizzu in the Northern Hall of the Great Hall of the People prior to their talks in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 10, 2024. Xi held talks with Muizzu, who is paying a state visit to China, in Beijing on Wednesday. (Xinhua/Zhai Jianlan)

Against the will and desire of her people, Hasina has always played a role very subservient to India throughout her political career. In her wild inclination towards India, she even crosses all moral and ethical limits.  In a recent statement she ridiculed rather insulted all supporters of the ‘India-Out Campaign’ with her derogatory remarks. She said, “First burn your wives’ Indian sarees, then boycott India”. Her statement is being harshly criticized by the people from all walks of life. The people of Bangladesh are a very hardworking and determined type of a nation. They have all abilities to perform miracles. According to WTO’s World Statistical Review 2023, Bangladesh ranks second in garment exports as a single country. But unfortunately the Prime Minister of such a diligent and hardworking nation is depressing and discouraging her people by saying that they don’t have an ability of producing Sarees for their wives.

On the other hand, the India-Out Campaign is becoming popular day by day in Maldives too. Maldives is the smallest country in Asia and its economy mainly depends on tourism. A report issued by Maldives’ Ministry of Tourism says, “The emergence of tourism in 1972 transformed country’s economy, moving rapidly from dependence on fisheries to tourism. In just three and a half decades, the industry became the main source of income. Tourism is also the country’s biggest foreign currency earner and the single largest contributor to the GDP.” According to the latest data released by the tourism ministry of Maldives, in 2023 around 18 lakh people visited the country for tourism purpose. The tourists included 2, 09,198 from India, 2, 09,146 from Russia and 1, 35,090 from Germany. According to the United States Institute of Peace, “on 4th January, social media posts from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi praising the beauty of India’s beaches in Lakshadweep sparked a diplomatic row with the Indian Ocean island nation, Maldives. As a country that leans heavily on tourism at its own beaches, three Maldivian junior ministers were quick to criticize the Indian prime minister, which led to calls from Indian social media users to boycott Maldives as a tourist destination.” The people of Maldives have expressed their grave resentment on the statement of Mr. Modi in which he has indirectly asked his people to avoid going to the beaches of Maldives and chose Lakshadweep for their excursion trips. The ownership of Lakshadweep Island is also a reason of conflict and confrontation between India and Maldives. As this Island is claimed by India as part of its territory while the Maldives considers it as a disputed area.

It is also a point to be noted that Maldives had been in a good relationship with India before September 2023 when Mohamed Muizzu was elected the President of Maldives. Before that during the premiership of Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, things were quite different. He had been doing all his best to strengthen the working relationship with India as his political philosophy had always been ‘India First’. Internally the people of Maldives were not in favour of giving India the status of ‘the most important’. They wanted the betterment, development and prosperity of their own country to be given all preference. So they vehemently expressed their reaction and resentment against ‘India First’ policy of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in the elections of 2023. After the statement of Mr. Modi, the Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu had set 10th May 2024 as the deadline for the withdrawal of Indian military personnel stationed within Maldivian territory. He had categorically warned that no Indian military personnel, including those in civilian attire, would be permitted to stay in his country after 19th May 2024. Feeling the gravity of Muizzu’s ultimatum, in the month of March, the Modi government called back 25 Indian troops deployed in Maldives’ southernmost city Addu which consists of inhabited islands.

In short, the ‘India-First’ policy introduced by Ex-President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is rapidly converting into ‘India-Out’ policy; and all credit of this revolutionary shift no doubt goes to President Muizzu. The basic difference between India Out Campaign in Maldives and in Bangladesh is that in Bangladesh the head of the state Prime Minister Hasina Wajid is doing all her best to crush this campaign but in Maldives the head of the state President Mohammad Muizzu is standing with his people. However, this political unrest in Bangladesh and Maldives is expected to benefit China most because of its already overwhelming economic presence in both the countries. China has been very successful in proving itself the regional economic godfather in true sense of the term, by taking care of its regional neighbors.