Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen on Tuesday said that the country maintains an independent, non-aligned foreign policy that is in the best interest of the Bangladeshi people. This comment came in response to the Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh, who threatened Bangladesh with repercussions if it considered any sort of participation in the Indo-Pacific Quad.
“We’re an independent and sovereign state. We decide our foreign policy. But yes, any country can uphold its position,” Dr. Momen said on Tuesday.
Bangladesh also received diplomatic support from the U.S., who affirmed Bangladesh’s sovereignty to make foreign policy decisions for itself.
We’ve taken note of that statement from the PRC ambassador to Bangladesh. We respect Bangladesh’s sovereignty, & we respect Bangladesh’s right to make foreign policy decisions for itself: US Dept of State on news reports that China has warned Bangladesh against joining Quad. pic.twitter.com/S161lop54G— ANI (@ANI) May 12, 2021
Chinese Ambassador’s blunt comments
Chinese Ambassador to Dhaka Li Jiming had said that the bilateral ties between the two countries will be “substantially damaged” if the country engages with the four-nation grouping of biggest naval powers in the region, the United States, India, Australia, and Japan.
Interacting with Bangladeshi journalists in Dhaka, Jiming bluntly said, “We do not want any form of participation of Bangladesh in this alliance.” He also added that China views the Quad as a “military alliance aimed against China’s resurgence and its relationship with neighboring countries”. He further called the Quad—the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue— ”a narrow purposed geopolitical clique”.
The Chinese Ambassador said that Bangladesh would not draw any benefit from joining the Quad, and advised it to refrain from any sort of participation in the group. “History has proved again and again such partnership surely damages our neighbors’ own social, economic development, and people’s wellbeing,” Li said.
The Indo-Pacific Quad
The Quad is an informal strategic alliance comprising India, the United States, Australia, and Japan. Officially, the group was conceived as a forum to cooperate for safeguarding joint security and other interests in the Indo-Pacific region. However, lately, the arrangement is seen as a counter to China’s expansionist maneuvers, most importantly in the South China Sea and in the Greater Himalayan region. Therefore, China considers the Quad as an attempt by the concerned nations to clip its rising dominance and looks at the group as a possible “Asian NATO’ of the future.
India and China have been at loggerheads over the latter’s expansionist moves in the region along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh. Indian and Chinese troops were engaged in a months-long standoff along the border, which also resulted in clashes at the Galwan Valley where 20 Indian soldiers lost their lives. The discussions for de-escalation of troops since then are going at a painfully slow pace.
On the other hand, several littoral nations have complained of China’s rising hegemony in the South China Sea. Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, and several other nations have reported incidents of intrusions by Chinese vessels.