This time Chinese a diplomat in the capital Dhaka threatened Bangladesh to not dare join the Quad Alliance, which is deemed by Beijing to harass China in the Indo-Pacific region.
“We do not want any form of participation of Bangladesh in this alliance” and remarked that the Quad—the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue is “a narrow purposed geopolitical clique”.
He quickly added that China views the Quad as a “military alliance aimed against China’s resurgence and its relationship with neighbouring countries”.
Incidentally, China has a major investment in infrastructure development including a couple of mega projects. These include, among others, the prestigious 6.24 km long Padma Bridge, which Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wishes to commission next year.
On May 10, the Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming said Bangladesh should not join the “Quad”, a US-led initiative, and that Bangladesh’s relations with China will “substantially be damaged” if it joins it, reports a private news agency United News of Bangladesh (UNB).
The ‘Wolf-Warrior’ Jiming, has forgotten that China opposed Bangladesh independence struggle in 1971.
The Chinese Communist Party tilted its shoulder towards all-weather friend Pakistan’s marauding military occupation of Bangladesh in 1971 and provided enough weapons and bullets which has been blamed for escalating genocide and war crimes in Eastern War Theatre.
Like the Pakistan media, the institutionally heavily censored Chinese media did not mention the genocide committed by marauding soldiers. China literally shut their ears not to hear the agonies of 10 million war refugees who took shelter in India.
After the independence of Bangladesh, China continued to politically and diplomatically harass the newly emerged independent nation. Chinese leadership Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai continued to harass Bangladesh at the international forum, as well as instigated the radicalised pro-Chinese armed groups who rejected the independence of Bangladesh.
Despite Sheikh Mujib “forged friendships with Chairman Mao Zedong, Premier Zhou Enlai” when he visited China twice in 1952 and 1957, the leadership in early 70s declined to recognition to Bangladesh.
China refused to recognise Bangladesh as an independent state and spontaneously vetoed Bangladesh membership in the United Nations. The country desperately needed international food aid and economic support for the rehabilitation of the returnees from Indian refugee camps.
China deliberately vetoed the United Nations resolutions twice regarding the repatriation of Pakistani prisoners of war (POWs) and civilians held in India had not yet been implemented. Chinese move was obviously to keep Pakistan in good humor.
Well, Beijing recognised the illegitimate military junta in Bangladesh, after the assassination of independence hero Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in August 1975 in a military putsch.
Fast forward to the present. The Chinese ambassador in Dhaka has stated that China had sent a proposal to Bangladesh on 3rd February to provide Chinese vaccines ‘Sinopharm’ to contain coronavirus pandemic.
The diplomat regretted that Bangladesh took three months to approve this proposal from China. Bangladesh proposed to get Chinese vaccines on 30th April.
The following day, the Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr AKM Momen in a strongly worded criticism slammed the Chinese Ambassador’s remark on coronavirus vaccines as “regrettable”.
Dr Momen on the remark that bilateral ties between the two countries will be “substantially damaged” if the country [Bangladesh] engages with the four-nation grouping of biggest naval powers in the region – the United States, India, Australia, and Japan – said, “We’re an independent and sovereign state. We decide our [own] foreign policy. But yes, any country can uphold its position.”
He did not hesitate to respond to a journalist’s query that he did not expect such behaviour from China.
The Chinese Ambassador bluntly said that Bangladesh would not gain benefit from joining the controversial Quad, and advised it to refrain from any sort of participation in the group.
The Quad, dubbed as “Asian NATO” 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.
On the other hand, several coastal nations have complained of China’s rising hegemony in the South China Sea, while Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, and several other nations have reported incidents of intrusions by Chinese vessels in their territory and harassing fishing vessels. Also complaining of Chinese hegemony in the South China Sea are Malaysia, Vietnam, South Korea and Thailand too.
The recent joint naval manoeuvre by the Indian Navy and Naval vessels of the US 7th Fleet in the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean has given a strong message to China that the oil shipment and trade route through the Indian Ocean could be troublesome if Chinese People’s Liberation Army skirmishes along Indo-China border continues.
India and China have been at loggerheads in the world’s highest peak’s harshest standoff the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Galwan Valley where 20 Indian soldiers lost their lives.
Recently the Chinese foreign ministry in Beijing has taken an increasingly strident tone against the United States, Australia, India and other countries.
The aggressive approach is known as “Wolf-Warrior Diplomacy,” and popular among the hawks in Beijing and has reinforced the transition of Chinese diplomacy from conservative, passive, and low-key to assertive, proactive, and high-profile to a new height.
In the coming days, the third-world countries and the West too will further see the bare fangs of Chinese “Wolf-Warrior Diplomacy”, which Chanakya, a great thinker and diplomat in ancient India will be ashamed of.
First published in International Affairs Review, 28 May 2021
Author is an an independent journalist, media rights defender, recipient of Ashoka Fellowship and Hellman-Hammett Award. He could be reached at <email@example.com>; Twitter @saleemsamad