Dhaka [Bangladesh], May 12 (ANI): Bangladeshi Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Tuesday reacted sharply to comments from China's ambassador warning against Dhaka's possible participation in the US-led Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad.
"We are an independent and sovereign state. We decide our foreign policy. Any country can uphold its position. But we will take decisions considering the interest of people and the country," said Momen, reported Nikkei Asia.
Beijing's representative in Dhaka, Li Jiming, on Monday had said the countries' relationship would suffer "substantial damage" if Bangladesh were to join the alliance alongside India, Japan and Australia.
Momen said none of the Quad members has approached Bangladesh about joining the grouping -- raising the question of why the ambassador brought it up in the first place. Li's remarks, Momen said, were premature.
The minister also said it was unusual for China to attempt to interfere in his country's affairs. "We did not expect it from China," he said.
But Li, speaking at an event organized by the Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB), had said Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe conveyed the same message during his recent visit to the South Asian nation, reported Nikkei Asia.
The ambassador expressed Beijing's view that the Quad alliance is mainly designed to oppose China, saying this was why Japan joined the group. "We don't want any form of participation of Bangladesh in this alliance," the envoy stressed.
It remains unclear why Chinese officials have zeroed in on Bangladesh and the Quad, but the four powers in the grouping have not been shy about raising its profile. At a virtual Quad summit in March, US President Joe Biden said it would be "a vital arena for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific" in the years ahead.
Moreover, Ned Price, spokesperson of US Department of States on Tuesday (local time) supported Bangladesh stand on the issue.
"We respect Bangladesh's sovereignty, and we respect Bangladesh's right to make foreign policy decisions for itself. We have an incredibly strong relationship with Bangladesh. We work closely with our partners there on a range of issues, from economic growth to climate change to humanitarian issues."While responding to the expansion of Quad, Price stated, "And when it comes to the Quad, we've said this before, but the Quad, it's an informal, essential, multilateral mechanism that right now conveys - convenes likeminded 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." (ANI)