Washington; The US has taken note of a Chinese diplomat’s statement warning Bangladesh against joining the Quad, the informal grouping of Australia, India, Japan and America to coordinate in the Indo-Pacific region, a top State Department official has said.
State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at his daily news conference on Tuesday that the US has an incredibly strong relationship with Bangladesh.
“We have taken note of that statement from the PRC (People’s Republic of China) ambassador to Bangladesh.
“What we would say is that we respect Bangladesh’s sovereignty and we respect Bangladesh’s right to make foreign policy decisions for itself,” Price said.
Responding to a question, he said that the United States is close with its partners on a range of issues from economic growth to climate change to humanitarian issues.
“When it comes to the Quad, we have said this before… it’s an informal, essential, multilateral mechanism that right now convenes like-minded democracies, the United States, India, Australia and Japan to coordinate in the Indo-Pacific and fundamentally to push forward our goal of a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” Price said.
In a provocative remark on Monday, China’s ambassador in Dhaka Li Jiming 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.
“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,” Li said at a virtual meeting organised by the Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh.
Bangladesh’s foreign minister Dr AK Abdul Momen described the Chinese envoy’s comment as “very unfortunate” and “aggressive”.
“We are an independent and sovereign state. We decide our foreign policy,” he said.
Initiated in 2007, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, Quad for short, is an informal grouping of the US, India, Australia and Japan.
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.
The Quad member countries have resolved to uphold a rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific amid growing Chinese assertiveness in the strategically vital region.
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 a clear message to China