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15th-Nov-2020

Biden's Victory Probable Policy Impact On South & South-East Asia

By Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed

Joe Biden is going to swear in as the 46th President of the United States in January next year. At home, he will have to face a bitterly divided state, an almost divided government plagued by partisan and sectarian strife. For a few more reasons, Biden will embrace the outside world in contrast to the way Trump turned his back on the outside world. The first reason is that Joe Biden is one of the few foreign policy veterans living in America. As a former vice president, he has long been chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Everyone in his foreign team is experienced. In the meantime his team has identified the three biggest strategic challenges; what they call 'Three C' (Covid, especially its global economic consequences, climate change or the risk of climate change and China). If Biden works on these three issues, the United States will have Europe and Asia on its side. A few days ago, Donald Trump officially withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. Therefore, its inclusion could be President Joe Biden's first step.
Joe Biden served as Vice President of the United States Government from 2009 to 2016. He was a senator for a long time before that. Biden has repeatedly spoken out on immigration and climate issues. Joe Biden announced before he was elected president that he would repeal many of Trump's immigration decisions and policies within 100 days of being elected president. In particular, Biden will overturn decisions that Trump made on immigration through executive orders. There are about 6 lakh Bangladeshi immigrants in the United States. Most of them live in New York. However, there are legal and illegal immigrants among these immigrants. While immigration policy has been tough under the Trump administration, it is expected to be much relaxed under the Biden administration. That's why Bangladeshi immigrants to the United States can benefit, especially illegal immigrants. Meanwhile, Bangladesh is working in a global forum to address the risks of climate change. Bangladesh is one of the few countries in the world that is playing a leading role in addressing the risks of climate change. Joe Biden has called for reducing carbon emissions to address the risks of climate change. He also mentioned the issue in the election manifesto.
In his winning speech, Joe Biden specifically mentioned South Asia. It is assumed that he will pay special attention to South Asia. In addition, his running mate and the next vice-president of the United States, Kamala Harris is carrying the blood of the Indian subcontinent. For this reason, it is expected that relations with sub-continental countries, including Bangladesh, will improve with the new administration. It may be mentioned here that since the Obama administration, the United States has adopted India as a strategic partner in the region. This policy will continue in the administration of Joe Biden. The United States will improve relations with Bangladesh in its own interest. Bangladesh is in a very important geo-strategic position in the long-term plan of the United States in the Indo-Pacific region. So, the new US administration must give importance to Bangladesh. If we try to get our special benefits back in the case of exports to the United States, it can be obtained now. The restrictions on American visas from Muslim-majority countries are also expected to be lifted. And now Bangladeshi students can easily go to the United States to pursue higher education. The new administration is expected to be sympathetic to Bangladeshis who have been living in the United States for a long time but still have problems with citizenship. In the past, US relations with India have always been good, especially India's ideological relations with the Democratic Party. But now that the Modi government is putting pressure on the religious minorities there through the establishment of Hindutva, the new US government is likely to put pressure on India in this regard. Biden's stance on crimes against humanity is very strict. Biden will not give Modi the "blank check" the way Trump gave him the power to do whatever he wants. At the same time, the new US administration will keep an eye on the establishment of good governance and democratic values in Bangladesh. Even in our internal affairs, they can make various recommendations that did not happen during Trump's time.
But the biggest challenge the Biden administration has to deal with in East Asia is its relationship with China. The United States is now economically dependent on China in many ways. On the other hand, China is not lagging behind in terms of military power as before. As a result, the Trump administration is no longer in a position to intimidate China. Japan is now considering whether to find a solution to the problem by adding China to a new multilateral framework, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership or the TPP, and Tokyo may influence Washington as well. To do so, however, the United States would require moving away from its tough stance on Taiwan. Beijing has accused Trump of violating WTO rules in many of the trade wars he has initiated with China. Biden can reconsider it. Overall, the Biden regime could also create a kind of working relationship in the midst of strategic animosity with China.
Now all eyes in the democratic world will be on the United States. The world wants to see how Joe Biden's public administration will move forward in the coming days. Moreover, Biden has a positive image all over the world. The democracy loving people from Bangladesh also expand their support for Joe Biden. Hopefully, in the days to come, the relationship between Bangladesh and the United States will deepen and we will see a new development in this relationship. It is hoped that the Biden administration will play a positive role in promoting US-Bangladesh bilateral and multilateral relations.

(Dr. Forqan is former Deputy Director General, Bangladesh Ansar & VDP, and Editor of 'The Monthly Bisswayan').