Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen on Tuesday said that Bangladesh was getting geopolitical attention from different global superpowers due to the ‘balanced foreign policy’ pursued by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
He, however, acknowledged that it's ‘challenging’ to keep that balance amid tense relations between the US and China.
He made those comment while talking to journalists after his meeting with the new Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang who made a brief stopover at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka in early hours of Tuesday on his way to Africa, and later at the foreign ministry after an event marking Bangabandhu’s homecoming day.
“We maintain a balanced foreign policy. That’s why we have to walk with all countries,” he said at the airport. Dr. Momen received him at the airport around 1:58am and
saw him off at 2.50am. In between, they had a bilateral talk at the VIP Lounge.
After that, he told the waiting journalists that he raised issues of trade, investment, development projects, vaccine cooperation and the Rohingya crisis during the talk.
"We believe in one-China (policy). This is our principle," Momen told the Chinese foreign minister.
This meeting took place at a time when the US is raising some concerns in Bangladesh, particularly on human rights and security issues.
US National Security Council’s Senior Director for South Asia Rear Admiral Eileen Laubacher is currently visiting Dhaka while a delegation of the Chinese Communist Party is also having meetings with different interlocutors in Bangladesh.
US Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu is also coming on January 14 night for a daylong visit.
"I told him (Gang) that we maintain a balanced foreign policy, so we have to walk with all countries. We will extend our support to you (China) from time to time," DrMomen said.
“We have gained geopolitical importance. I must thank honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as many countries are paying attention to us due to her balanced foreign policy,” he later told reporters after an event at the Foreign Ministry.
“This is good news, that we are getting enough importance from many countries,” he said, adding that
Bangladesh has put its footprint under global spotlight as it became the 35th largest economy in the world.
“They (different countries) realized that there are ample business opportunities in Bangladesh, no one wants to miss out,” he said, adding that Bangladesh would also like to have more engagement with all the countries.
He, however, said, Bangladesh has been maintaining successfully its dictum of foreign policy – friendship to all, malice towards none – set by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
“They (the US and China) might have problems between them. This is their headache. We will maintain our good relations (with both the US and China)”, he said.
He said the existing bilateral relations between Dhaka and Washington are also “very good”.
“We would like to further solidify it (Bangladesh-US tie),” he said, when asked about the upcoming visit of the US assistant secretary.
He said his meeting with the Chinese foreign minister at the airport was “very useful and fruitful”.
“Good news is that China has expressed its willingness to remain engaged with Bangladesh in our development journey. They want to work with us as a partner,” he said.
He urged China to implement Beijing's decision to provide duty-free and quota-free facilities for 98 percent Bangladeshi export products in the Chinese market.
He also thanked the Chinese government for its support to Bangladesh during Covid-19 pandemic.