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'We decide our foreign policy': Bangladesh reacts to Chinese warning over joining Quad

China rather pre-emptively warned Bangladesh against joining the US-led Quad alliance, saying that Dhaka's participation in the "anti-Beijing club" would result in "substantial damage" to bilateral relations.


Bangladesh has reacted strongly to Chinese warning over Dhaka's possible participation in the US-led Quad alliance.
"We're an independent and sovereign state. We decide our foreign policy. But yes, any country can uphold its position," Bangladesh foreign minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said when asked about the Chinese warning.

"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,” Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming said at a virtual meeting organised by the Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh on Monday.

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The Chinese envoy said the message had been conveyed to the Sheikh Hasina government by Chinese defence minister Wei Fenghe when he visited Dhaka in April. The official readout during Wei’s visit had referred to a Chinese assertion against military alliances in South Asia that would lead to “hegemonism”, which observers took as a reference to India.

The reference to Quad and the undiplomatic manner in which Bangladesh was warned indicate Beijing’s deep annoyance with a grouping that intends to curtail its influence in the Indo-Pacific and areas that China considers its zone of influence.
Li described the Quad as a "narrow-purposed" geopolitical clique, and Bangladesh should not join it as the country will not derive any benefit from the initiative.
"History has proved again and again such partnership surely damages our neighbours' own social, economic development and people's well-being," Li was quoted as saying.
Reacting to the ambassador's remarks, Bangladesh foreign minister said Dhaka maintains a non-aligned and balanced foreign policy and it will decide what to do according to those principles.
"Naturally, he (Chinese ambassador) represents a country. They can say what they want. Maybe they don't want it (Bangladesh joining the Quad)," Momen said adding that no one from the Quad has approached Bangladesh yet.
Initiated in 2007, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, Quad for short, is an informal grouping of India, the US, Australia and Japan.
The first summit of the Quad leaders was hosted by US President Joe Biden on March 12 and the virtual meeting was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
The four Quad leaders have vowed to strive for an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, inclusive, healthy, anchored by democratic values, and unconstrained by coercion, sending an clear message to China against its aggressive actions in the region.
China has vehemently opposed the formation of the Quad with a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman emphasising in March that exchanges and cooperation between countries should help expand mutual understanding and trust, instead of targeting or harming the interests of third parties.



May 12, 2021

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