The influence of China and Russia in the current world system – whether they will exert their influence in a more autocratic way – and complex international relations were discussed at a session on the second day of the Dhaka Lit Fest.

The impact of the war on diplomatic relations and how the energy crisis along with depression is putting the world order to a new test were also discussed.

Dhaka Tribune Editor Zafar Sobhan moderated the session titled “Power Plays”. Winston E Langley, emeritus professor of political science and international relations at the University of Massachusetts Boston, journalist Dominic Ziegler and lawmaker Kazi Nabil Ahmed spoke at the session. 

The speakers presented their views on the international relations between powerful countries including the United States, China and Russia.

Winston E Langley, the author of the popular book “War Between US and China”, highlighted the various polarizations in US-China relations.

“There are many case studies on historical conflicts and wars. The current relationship between the US and China is influencing future international relations as well. Perhaps the most important thing today is bilateral international relations,” he said.

Winston E Langley praised Bangladesh’s role in the discussion on the impact of climate change.

He said: “Bangladesh is playing an important role in the global discussion on the impact of climate change. Smaller countries are more affected by the effects of climate change, which affects the economy.”

Regarding Bangladesh’s challenges in international relations, MP Kazi Nabil Ahmed said: “We have many kinds of crises. One million Rohingya are staying in Bangladesh. We are also going through various crises due to the effect of the Russia-Ukraine war. The effect of these things is also falling on us. For example, like the rest of the world, Bangladesh is also facing a fuel crisis.”

The lawmaker said Bangladesh believes in maintaining good relations with all countries. 

He also opined that Bangladesh is playing a strong role in facing the impacts of climate change.

Dominic Ziegler is a journalist who writes the weekly “Banyan” column on Asian affairs for The Economist and is also the bureau chief for its office in Singapore. He also writes on the China-Russia issue.

The journalist said Southeast Asian countries are stuck in the trap of two superpowers. China wants to place itself at the centre of the world. The economic, strategic and military rivalry between the United States and China has implications for Southeast Asian countries.

Dhaka Lit Fest 2023, Bangladesh’s biggest event on world literature and culture, began on Thursday with around 500 writers, poets, performers, intellectuals, journalists and internationally acclaimed prize-winning speakers taking part in over 170 sessions over four days.

This is the 10th edition of the fest. The fest is taking place after a three-year hiatus caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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