Almost five decades back when East Pakistan became a new nation Beijing egged by its ally Pakistan played hardball in delaying UN membership to Bangladesh.
On 17 September 1974, Bangladesh became a full member of the United Nation as China used veto between 1972-74 to prevent membership. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, whose birth centenary falls this year, gave a speech in Bengali language at the General Assembly on September 24, 1974.
Media reports from 1972 show that Security Council members striving to avert a Chinese veto, deferred Bangladesh’s application for the UN membership. Bangladesh submitted its membership application on August 8, 1972 and the Security Council voted to place it on its agenda on August 7, overriding strong objection by China. But membership was finally granted in 1974.
In August 1972, 11 of the 15 members of the UN Security Council voted to recommend membership, 3 abstained and only China voted to oppose the entry of Bangladesh.
The erstwhile Soviet Union that had backed India in the 1971 war and backed war of independence had moved resolution in the UNSC to admit Bangladesh into UN. India had backed the move understandably.
“Speaking for China, Huang Hua, her chief representative at the United Nations, said that “Soviet socialist imperialism” was playing a “most insidious role in South Asia” and that India, in concluding “an aggressive military alliance” with the Soviet Union, had “stripped off its own cloak of nonalliance,” according to a New York Times report dated August 25, 1972.
In reply Viktor L. Issraelyan, the then Soviet representative at UN, said that “the representative of China sees the hand of Moscow everywhere—this despite the fact that the resolution received 11 favorable votes,” according to NYT report. “I might add that the representative of China was not original,” Issraelyan said. “In fact, he is repeating the approach by the late John Foster Dulles, who also saw Soviet influence everywhere.”
“In voting against the admission of Bangladesh, which was East Pakistan before winning independence last December with the support of India, China charged that Bangladesh stood in violation of two United Nations resolutions—one passed in the General Assembly and the other in the Security Council,” according to NYT report.
In 1972 then acting Prime Minister of Bangladesh Syed Nazrul Islam appealed to the People’s Republic of China not to stand in the way of the rightful admission of Bangladesh into the UN, according to media reports.
Islam had said that 85 countries of the world had already recognised Bangladesh. China had herself suffered in the past due to the obstructionist policy of various imperialist powers, he added. The acting prime minister earnestly hoped that Chinese leaders would appreciate Bangladesh’s struggle for freedom and accept the reality.
“ Like the Pakistan media, Chinese media were tight-lipped about the genocide committed by marauding soldiers. China should admit the responsibility for the genocide perpetrated by Pakistan’s military hawks in Bangladesh. For each victim of genocide, China delivered gifts via the Rawalpindi hawks which were “Made in China” bullets in brass that were pumped into the martyrs who wanted an independent Bangladesh…CCP’s anti-people policy during the bloody birth of Bangladesh, overtly providing military aid to Pakistan which augmented genocide with Chinese bullets should apologize. CCP should also apologize for harassing Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,” Saleem Samad, a veteran Bangladeshi journalist, recently wrote in the International Affairs Review referring to the role played by Beijing during the early 1970s against freedom struggle in the East Pakistam.
Today Bangladesh is a key member of the UN as it sends one of the largest contingent forces to the United Nations and in December 2017 it had 7246 personnel deployed in peacekeeping operations. Bangladesh peacekeepers have been deployed in a number of countries such as east Timor, Lebanon, South Sudan, Namibia, Haiti and Liberia among others.