Bangladesh has been cautioned by China against joining the US-led Quad alliance, claiming that joining the anti-Beijing "club" would cause "substantial harm" to bilateral ties between the two nations.
The unusual warning from the Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming came only weeks after Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Wei Fenghe told Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid that Beijing and Dhaka should work together to prevent outside powers by establishing a "military alliance" in South Asia and practicing "hegemonism".
"Obviously it will not be a good idea for Bangladesh to participate in this small club of four (Quad) because it will substantially damage our bilateral relationship," Ambassador Li made these remarks on Monday at a virtual meeting hosted by the Diplomatic Correspondents Association in Bangladesh.
"We are an independent and sovereign state. We decide our foreign policy. But yes, any country can uphold its position," said Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen upholding his nation's policy of non-alignment and balanced foreign relations with other countries. "Naturally, he (Chinese ambassador) represents a country. They can say what they want. Maybe they don't want it (Bangladesh joining the Quad)," added the foreign minister. He also further added that no Quad member state has approached Bangladesh yet.
India, Japan, Australia, and the United States of America comprise the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD) or QUAD Group, an informal geopolitical forum, which according to China is a "small group of elites" working against their national interests.
"Quad says it is only for economic purposes and security and so on. But that's not true. We know that Quad is aimed at China," said the Chinese envoy. "Japan, together with the US, has stated it very clearly – they are participating in [Quad] because of China," he added. Li also opined that Bangladesh will not derive anything out of this forum, and termed it as a "narrow-purposed" geopolitical clique.
China obstinately opposed the formation of the Quad upholding the point that it is being used as a forum for anti-China activities.
In the face of rising Chinese assertiveness in the strategically important area, the four Quad member countries have agreed to maintain a rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific. On March 12, US President Joe Biden held the first Quad Leaders Summit, which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
The four leaders of the Quad have pledged to work for an Indo-Pacific region that is autonomous, transparent, equitable, stable, rooted in democratic ideals, and free of coercion, sending a strong message to China about its provocative activities in the region.