China has crossed the line when talking about Quad: Foreign minister

Bangladesh foreign minister AK Abdul Momen (L) addresses a media conference at state guest house Padma, Dhaka on 11 May 2021Prothom Alo

Bangladesh foreign minister AK Abdul Momen on Tuesday said China has crossed the line while talking about Quad. The foreign minister was addressing a media conference at state guest house Padma in the capital on Tuesday in response to Chinese ambassador Li Jiming’s recent remarks.

Momen said the government is yet to take any decision regarding Quad. Besides, Bangladesh is an independent country and will take the decision as a sovereign country.

China ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming on Monday said Bangladesh’s relations with China will be “substantially damaged” if Bangladesh joins the US-led initiative, Quad. China considers Quad -- a strategic alliance of the US, Japan, India and Australia -- as a minor group with anti-China motives.

Chinese ambassador made these remarks at a virtual meeting to exchange views with journalists on Monday.

Chinese defence minister Wei Fenghe also sought Bangladesh’s assistance over issues such as Quad and IPS (Indo-Pacific Strategy) during his visit to Bangladesh last month.

Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming meets foreign minister AK Abdul Momen in Dhaka
File photo

The Chinese ambassador did not reply when asked what Bangladesh said in reply of China’s request.

Li Jiming said China always maintains that the US-led Quad is a minor anti-China initiative. I want to clearly say that there are security elements in the initiative although it is said to be economic, he said.

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The Chinese ambassador alerted Bangladesh saying that it is not wise to ponder over joining with such a “small” group or club. Bilateral relations with Bangladesh would be substantially damaged if it joins hand with the initiative.

Addressing the media today, Abdul Momen said we are an independent and sovereign country. We set our foreign policy. Any country can express its opinions. But we’ll decide our course of action based on the fundamental principle we have for the welfare of our country. The Chinese ambassador has talked about his country’s stand. The organisation he was talking about has not approached us as yet. This was a bit of overstepping. But we have nothing special to say about this.

The minister further said generally China does not interfere in the affairs of other countries. I never heard them talking so aggressively to anyone. This is a matter of regret. Another country is trying to dictate what we should or should not do. We’ll do whatever is beneficial for the country.

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The foreign minister further said the government did not expect such behaviour from China.

Responding to a question about whether any message would be given to the Chinese ambassador for his remarks, the foreign minister said, we do not tell the media about what we do. We have ways of doing things. We know what we’ll do. We can’t reveal everything.