(This was originally poste in Times Of India by Indrani Bagchi)
China has threatened Bangladesh with repercussions if it considered any sort of participation in the Indo-Pacific Quad, warning that it will lead to a degrading of ties, a report published by the Times of India said.
Chinese Ambassador to Dhaka Li Jiming said that the bilateral ties between the two countries will be “substantially damaged” if the country engages with the four-nation grouping of biggest naval powers in the region, the United States, India, Australia and Japan.
Interacting with Bangladeshi journalists in Dhaka, Jiming bluntly said, “We do not want any form of participation of Bangladesh in this alliance.” He also added that China views the Quad as a “military alliance aimed against China’s resurgence and its relationship with neighbouring countries”. He further called the Quad—the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue—”a narrow purposed geopolitical clique”.
The Chinese Ambassador said that Bangladesh would not draw any benefit from joining the Quad, and advised it to refrain from any sort of participation in the group. “History has proved again and again such partnership surely damages our neighbours’ own social, economic development and people’s wellbeing,” Li said.
The envoy said that this message had been conveyed to the Sheikh Hasina government by the Chinese defence minister Wei Fenghe when he visited last week. The official communique during Wei’s visit had mentioned China’s discomfort against military alliances, stating that it would lead to “hegemonism”, which analysts claimed as a reference to India.
The Indo-Pacific QUAD
The Quad is an informal strategic alliance comprising India, the United States, Australia and Japan. Officially, the group was conceived as a forum to cooperate for safeguarding joint security and other interests in the Indo-Pacific region. However, lately, the arrangement is seen as a counter to China’s expansionist manoeuvres, most importantly in the South China Sea and in the Greater Himalayan region. Therefore, China considers the Quad as an attempt by the concerned nations to clip its rising dominance and looks at the group as a possible “Asian NATO’ of the future.
India and China have been at loggerheads over the latter’s expansionist moves in the region along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh. Indian and Chinese troops were engaged in a months-long standoff along the border, which also resulted in clashes at the Galwan Valley where 20 Indian soldiers lost their lives. The discussions for de-escalation of troops since then are going at a painfully slow pace.
On the other hand, several littoral nations have complained of China’s rising hegemony in the South China Sea. Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan and several other nations have reported incidents of intrusions by the Chinese vessels.