Full-Time (Grand) Children of the Nation

Facing an economic slow-down, Chinese young adults are increasingly moving back home with their parents and becoming “full-time children.” For some of them, this may be a temporary reprieve before they jump back into the job market. Others may make it more a long-term life choice, accepting an allowance from their parents and focusing their time on self-care and bringing their favorite shows.

Like many other aspects of Chinese culture, this phenomenon may soon become more popular in Bangladesh. The visit of President Xi Jinping to Bangladesh in October 2016, the first visit of a Chinese head of state to Bangladesh in 30 years, was the culmination of steady growth of the relationship between the two countries, especially during the tenure of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Xi’s visit showered tens of billions of dollars of mega-infrastructure projects and gave a visible boost to Prime Minister Hasina ahead of the 2018 elections.

The month before the Xi visited Bangladesh, Prime Minister Hasina was in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly, as is her norm. While there, her son, Sajeeb Wazed Joy, who also holds the appointment as her Information and Communication Technology Adviser, got an award from the World Organization of Governance and Competitiveness (WOGC). The ceremony was suitably festive, and there were many pictures floating online of the proud mother and son.

Fast forward to the present, and that evening looks very different in hindsight. Cary Yan, who served as the President and Chairman of the WOGC and features prominently in the pictures with Hasina and Joy, was sentenced in May to three years and six months in prison for paying bribes to elected officials of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). According to a report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), Cary was involved in “a Chinese effort to gain influence over the strategically located Marshall Islands”.

The OCCRP report also confirms that the award to Joy was conveyed during the launch of WOGC. Hasina certainly checks all the boxes of someone who would be involved with a person like Cary Yan, being both desirous of increasingly closer ties to China as well as willing to unthinkingly open Bangladesh’s treasury for personal baubles and trinkets. One has to wonder whether the recent purported legal issues faced by Sajeeb Wazed, to the extent that his mother openly talked about his US property being confiscated, and a Bangladeshi diplomat stationed in DC as well as an influential member of parliament separately posted assurances that Wazed is still in the USA, can be traced back to any transactions with this convicted fraudster.

Echoes of this incident must resonate ominously as Hasina seems adamant in her drive to elevate her other child, Saima Wazed, to a prestigious Regional Director position in the World Health Organization. The Lancet, the respected medical journal, has stated that this push to elevate Saima Wazed was going to “delegitimize both the election process and the future credibility of elected WHO Regional Directors” as well as “damage[ing] trust in the integrity of WHO’s leaders.” One wonders, given Hasina’s past track record, how Bangladesh’s financial resources were squandered, and geopolitical interests harmed to pursue this unwarranted boon to her second child.

Perhaps Sajeeb Wazed and Saima Wazed should move in with her mother at the sprawling Gana Bhaban mansion, for the few remaining days they can call it home. Maybe even a hefty allowance could be arranged. It would probably be the lesser evil than the damage this family has already wrought to Bangladesh on the international stage.


OCCRP report: https://www.occrp.org/en/investigations/chinese-miracle-water-grifters-infiltrated-the-un-and-bribed-politicians-to-build-pacific-dream-city