Reoriented 'BIMSTEC' at the Heart of Reconceptualized Regionalism in the Indo- Pacific

Anisree Suresh,

School of International and Area Studies, Goa University, India

Abstract. The cold war and immediate post-cold war had witnessed marginalization of the Bay of Bengal from the mainstream geopolitics due to bloc rivalry and major contestation outside the region and also due to the isolationist policies followed by the littoral states in the region. With Indo-Pacific started getting momentum, Ba􏰇y o􏰂f Bengal and 􏰄the r􏰀egio􏰂nal bo􏰂dy􏰇 '􏰕BIMSTEC'􏰖 􏰊was􏰁 behind t􏰄he p􏰅ace. China􏰖􏰁's na􏰄tio􏰂nalis􏰁t􏰄ic leaders􏰀􏰁hip􏰅 and aggr􏰀es􏰁􏰁iv􏰎e pursu􏰅􏰃􏰀􏰁􏰃it􏰄 􏰂of na􏰄tio􏰂nal interests also with its BCIM initiative trying to connect to the Bay of Bengal as a direct entry into Indian ocean and al􏰁􏰂so as􏰁 􏰅part􏰀􏰄 o􏰂f PRC􏰖􏰁's w􏰊est􏰁􏰄 r􏰀egio􏰂n dev􏰎elop􏰂􏰅ment􏰄 strategy, became an imperative for re-emerging geographic centrality of the Bay of Bengal. Last few years as the strategic and economic interests in the Bay of Bengal are gaining fame as part of the larger maritime strategic space of Indo-pacific, BIMSTEC is emerging as a promise in the region, as institutionalization of Indo- Pacific could promote overall peace, security and prosperity in the region. Bay of Bengal could rightly claim the centrality of Indo-pacific regionalism through a renewed BIMSTEC as it provides an alternate economic choice over BRI of PRC and allows South Asian countries connect with the ASEAN and connects two regions of geo-economic importance while diversifying the dependency of littoral states beyond China. BIMSTEC, along with connecting Asia's economic capital to the subcontinent, also establishes itself at the heart of Indo-pacific with a promise of geo-economic importance. Littoral states of Bay of Bengal are reclaiming the geo-economic space in Indo-pacific through a reimagined BIMSTEC and the prospects of reorganized value chains of post-COVID-19 global economic scenario. This paper intends to study the emerging importance of a reoriented BIMSTEC central to the dynamics of Indo-Pacific regionalism.

The full version of the article can be accessed below...