Jiming at an event in Dhaka on Monday termed Quad “anti-China” and warned Bangladesh against any form of participation in the group, saying that it would “substantially damage” bilateral relations.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen responded to Jiming’s remarks on Tuesday, saying that Bangladesh will take a decision based on “neutral and balanced” foreign policy.
Ned Price, a spokesman for the State Department, was asked by a journalist about the matter during a daily press conference in Washington DC on Tuesday.
“Well, we have taken note of that statement from the PRC 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.
First established in 2007, Quad is an informal strategic dialogue established between the US, Japan, Australia and India. The initiative is widely regarded as a response to the growing economic and military power of China.
“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,” said Price.
“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.”
Then US deputy secretary of state, Stephen Biegun, had discussed the Indo-Pacific Strategy with Bangladesh officials during his Dhaka visit in October last year.
An open Indo-Pacific region will be “enormously” beneficial to Bangladesh as well as to its neighbours to work towards peaceful outcomes in the region, and to the US, he had said.
“Unfortunately we are facing other challenges in the Indo-Pacific. I would not deny there are security concerns that affect and concern many of us who are Pacific nations or in the Indo-Pacific,” Biegun had said, in a clear reference to China.
Before the Dhaka trip, he had visited India. New Delhi, wary of further antagonising China, has been careful to avoid being drawn into US-led alliances. But Biegun had said the United States had no plans to impinge on India’s strategic autonomy, but to forge a relationship based on shared interests.