The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), reminiscent of the Silk Road, is a long-term infrastructural project that would stretch from the heart of China, all the way to Europe which will help Asia cope with infrastructure financing gaps.
This was echoed by President of Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) Major General ANM Muniruzzaman and Editor of Dhaka Tribune Zafar Sobhan in their remarks at the BIPSS-Dhaka Tribune Roundtable titled, 'Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): Connecting the World', which was held at the Westin, reports UNB.
The BRI project of China will create partnership linkages among the sub-regions of South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. BRI presents an array of opportunities for Bangladesh, they said.
The roundtable was attended by diplomats, scholars, security experts, and youth representatives from various disciplines.
BIPSS President Muniruzzaman highlighted the key facets and variables concerning BRI, the underlying opportunities and challenges, and what it means for Bangladesh to maintain a strategic balance being a member of the grand infrastructural initiative.
He said BRI is happening at a time when significant changes are taking place in the international system, according to a media release issued on Monday.
Zafar Sobhan, editor of The Dhaka Tribune, in his welcome remarks said it is important to take a deeper look at BRI projects, including how they may affect Bangladesh.
Muniruzzaman further discussed how Bangladesh has a significant geostrategic role in BRI. “We expect that BRI projects shouldn’t cause any harm to the environment,” he added.
While discussing the project of the century, Muniruzzaman focused on how BRI encompasses several continents in a network of roads and sea-routes.
The first keynote speaker, Dr. Fahmida Khatun, Executive Director of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), began her remarks with an emphasis on the economic and trade benefits of BRI, and its implications for Bangladesh.
During her speech, she also highlighted the infrastructural gap currently existing in Bangladesh and BRI will be a key supplement to fulfilling this gap.
Fahmida Khatun said it is imperative for Bangladesh to follow a cautious approach regarding Chinese investments.
Highlighting the role of BRI member countries, second keynote speaker Parvez Karim Abbasi, Assistant Professor of the Department of Economics at East West University, began his deliberations by talking about the geo-economic implications of BRI for the region.
He also highlighted the fact how the whole project of BRI is actually an integral part of the Chinese socioeconomic identity.
Abbasi added, “BRI is a concrete manifestation of China’s emergence as an economic powerhouse and it will help expand connectivity transcending the borders between nations.”
He said the fate of China is intrinsically linked to BRI. "Due to the pandemic, there’ve been major economic implications for the world. The small states need to take each step with precision and clarity. The role of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has to be studied with in-depth details."
Summarizing the discussion, Muniruzzaman said although there will be major implications for the signatory countries, they need to utilise the funds channeled through BRI for the prosperity of our nation.
An interactive session with the audience was followed who further enriched the discussion.
The participants included foreign diplomats, security sector personnel, scholars and journalists.