Dr A K Abdul Momen, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh on 11th May 2021, urged the foreign envoys in Dhaka to maintain decency and decorum when giving public statements. This statement came in response to the ‘hint’ that the Chinese envoy to Bangladesh H.E. Li Jiming gave by implying the substantial damage Dhaka will face in case it decided to join the Quad. This exchange of words took place at a virtual press conference organised by the Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh.
The Chinese ambassador’s warning caused much stir and even the American State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that the United States had taken note of the message given to Dhaka. Bangladesh responded too by cleaning its position about no-tolerance for foreign influence or intervention and as a sovereign country took its own decisions. The Quad or the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue is an informal strategic dialogue between the US, Japan, Australia and India. It has been seen as a balancing factor against the Chinese influence in the Inso-Pacific region. Dr Momen did call the envoy’s reaction as “aggressive” and “very regrettable”. He clearly said that Dhaka will decide its own foreign policy and there was no room for such injunctions.
The Chinese newspaper South China Morning Post reported that China had denied any intentions of “meddling” in South Asia. China and Bangladesh have a history of cordial relations and there has been much cooperation and support to survive the pandemic, but this instance has gained much importance due to indication of the Chinese displeasure with Quad.
It is interesting to note that Bangladesh has not been in talks with any one for joining the Quad as yet. However, the stern statement made by the Chinese envoy exhuberated a sense of dislike for any such possibility in future. The Quad and its approach to let more states join in has irked China especially due to its maritime ambitions in India Pacific. Thus, the idea of Bangladesh joining it will not be favourable for Bangladesh more because of its role in the Belt and Road Initiative.
Dr Momen hailed the non-alignment policy that Dhaka follows and expressed disbelief at the extent to which the Chinese ambassador had spoken. There is an opinion that the caution was just in response to a question about the Quad asked to the Chinese envoy. Nonetheless, it has definitely resulted in lifting the radars of many experts around the world.