Sunday, January 20, 2019 | ePaper

Bangladesh must think differently about regional and international connectivity

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CHINA is planning a bullet train service between Kunming and Kolkata, traversing through Myanmar and Bangladesh. With joint efforts of India and China, a high-speed rail link could be established between the two cities, Chinese Consul General in Kolkata Mr Zhanwu said at a conference, reports Indian media on Thursday.  It will only take a few hours to reach Kolkata from Kunming if the rail link becomes a reality. Myanmar and Bangladesh would be benefitted from the project. "We may have a cluster of industries along the route. That increases the possibility of economic development of countries involved in the 2,800 km-long project," Mr Zhanwu said, adding that the rail route was aimed at boosting trade flow in the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) corridor.
We know it's a very primary proposal and the future of this rail route depends upon the clearance of relating governments.  What is certain that China is very much keen to implement its One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, which was proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013. It comprises two major programs -- Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. The Silk Road Economic Belt connects three major routes like China to Europe, the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, while the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road is based on waterways among member countries of OBOR. It is the biggest ever initiative in human history that comprises about 65 countries and 900 projects with an investment volume of 850 billion dollars.
But only one country -- that is India is not supporting China's OBOR initiative. India's main objection is China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a small part of OBOR, which will go through some disputed land of Kashmir. In the last meeting in April, all the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) members, including Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, reaffirmed support to OBOR but India stood out of it.
We think, connectivity will be the main factor for any nation to survive in the tough condition of the 21st century. Bangladesh cannot lose the scope of being linked with rest of the world. Our foreign policy is different and our development strategy is also different. So, we have to think differently.

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