May 1, 2021
Dhaka: China has launched a diplomatic offensive against the US-led QUAD alliance that seeks to contain China’s influence and territorial ambition in the Indo-Pacific region, diplomatic sources have said.
During his brief visit to Bangladesh last week Chinese defense minister Wei Fenghe conveyed to Dhaka his country’s concern over the QUAD or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, a loose alliance of the United States, Japan, Australia and India, according to news reports in Dhaka on Saturday.
Fenghe expressed Beijing’s concern during his courtesy call on Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid on April 28, Prothom Alo and Bangla Tribune newspapers said.
China views QUAD initiative as a “poisonous cold war” against its interest in the Indo-Pacific. QUAD seeks to keep the Indo-Pacific free and open from the China’s territorial expansion.
The president just listened to the Chinese minister, but made no comments, a source close to the president’s office said.
Responding to the reports Foreign Secretary Masud bin Momen reiterated Dhaka’s position about the QUAD.
“We have made it clear that We are not going to be a part of any security alliance as Bangladesh pursue a non-aligned policy,” he said. “We will be interested only when something is economically good for us,” he said.
Chinese official news agency XINHUA said Fenghe told the Bangladesh president “The two militaries of China and Bangladesh should further increase high-level visits, deepen cooperation in equipment technology, broaden exchanges in specialized fields, and forge closer relations.”
XINHUA quoted Hamid as saying Bangladesh and China are time tested friends and reliable strategic cooperation partners, adding that his country attaches great importance to its relations with China and firmly supports the core interests of China.
According to Bangla Tribune the Chinese minister briefed the president about Beijing’s recent border clashes with India and the subsequent efforts to calm the situation through dialogue.
During his stay in Dhaka Fenghe met with Bangladesh army chief Gen. Aziz Ahmed and discussed matters of mutual interest, news reports said.
But Fenghe’s raising the QUAD with his meeting with Hamid caught Bangladesh officials by surprise, a source said.
The Chinese defense minister’s visit coincided with Beijing’s move to forge cooperation with five South Asian nations, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Pakistan to combat both the current pandemic and the post-pandemic economic recovery.
The initiative was launched late last week at a virtual meeting of the foreign ministers of the six countries.
India’s neighbours and China have agreed to work for building a emergency reserve of COVID-19 medicines and medical equipment at a suitable location.
China has invited also India to join the platform at a time when the South Asian giant is reeling under savage attack of the pandemic.
Wei’s Dhaka visit came two weeks after Indian army chief Genn Manoj Mukund Naravane’s trip to Bangladesh.
Bangladesh and China have deep military cooperation since mid 1970s. China is the major source of its arms and ammunitions. In 2016-17 two Ming-class type 035B diesel electric submarines, purchased from China, joined Bangladesh Navy.