'Accommodate China in BIMSTEC to ensure its effectiveness'

Published On: August 25, 2018 07:31 AM NPT

KATHMANDU, Aug 25: As the preparations to host the fourth BIMSTEC Summit next week is in full swing, experts have stressed on the need to accommodate China in the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) for its effectiveness. 

Addressing a talk program entitled BIMSTEC: Connecting South Asia and South East Asia, former foreign ministers and ambassadors argued that BIMSTEC member states need to forge common position as to how they want to adjust China in this seven-member regional body. BIMSTEC has Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand as members. 

Former foreign secretary and Nepal's ambassador to Bangladesh Madhu Raman Acharya said BIMSTEC member states need to seriously think on how do they want to engage China if they are willing to make this body effective. 

“Shall we be afraid of China or accommodate China in this framework? Since China is already in the region through various initiatives, it is important for BIMSTEC member states to take China as complementary to BIMSTEC process,” he said.

Addressing the program organized by Center for South Asian Studies in Lalitpur on Friday, Acharya argued that China should be engaged in BIMSTEC as an important partner as this would make the regional body to cover half of the world's total GDP. 

Also speaking on the occasion, former ambassador Dinesh Bhattarai said there are differences among BIMSTEC member states to deal with the rise of China. Referring to attempts of some countries to contain the rise of China, Bhattarai argued that Nepal should be especially careful to ensure that BIMSTEC is not made a tool to contain the rise of China. 

Associate supervisor of Shanghai Institute of International Studies Prof Wu Yongnian said that economic development of South Asia and South East Asian countries and achievement of any large-scale projects are inseparable from the support and assistance of China. 

“South Asia and South East Asian countries should adopt principles and concepts of mutual cooperation and mutual benefit,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, former foreign minister Ramesh Nath Pandey and Prakash Sharan Mahat stress on the need to think on how Nepal can utilize BIMSTEC Summit as an opportunity to promote its national interests. Mahat urged the BIMSTEC member states first to focus on developing physical connectivity including highway, roadways, seaways among the member states so that trade connectivity among the member states can take place.


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