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Fearing US influence, China asks Bangladesh to reject ‘bloc politics’

Michael Kugelman, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Wilson Centre, noted in a Foreign Policy Brief that the Biden administration’s growing engagement with countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal, and the Maldives, “marks a shift for Washington, which in recent decades has expended most of its diplomatic capital in the region on India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.”

Jun 03, 2022
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Bangladesh-China

Bangladesh and other countries in the region should reject “bloc politics”, and stay away from the cold war mentality, “uphold” their “independence”, a senior Chinese official said, amid the growing engagement of the United States in the Indo-Pacific region.

“China believes that countries in the region, including Bangladesh, will bear in mind the fundamental interests of their own countries and the region, uphold independence, reject the Cold War mentality and bloc politics," Liu Jinsong, director-general of the Department of Asian Affairs of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told Bangladeshi Ambassador to China Mahbub Uz Zaman, according to a report in Hindustan Times.

The regional countries, Liu said, should safeguard multilateralism and a hard-won environment for peace and development in the region. The remark is significant as it comes amid the backdrop of the growing US engagement, partly driven by the quest to contain Beijing's rise and influence.

Michael Kugelman, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Wilson Centre, noted in a Foreign Policy Brief that the Biden administration’s growing engagement with countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal, and the Maldives, “marks a shift for Washington, which in recent decades has expended most of its diplomatic capital in the region on India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.”
 
Similarly, last year Chinese envoy to Bangladesh Li Jiming made what seemed to appear a threat to Dhaka.

For Bangladesh, Li Jiming had said, to participate in a small club of four [a reference to the Quad grouping] would not be a “good idea” as it would “substantially damage” bilateral ties between China and Bangladesh.

Later, Bangladesh Foreign Minister AL Abdul Momin shot back, terming the remark “very unfortunate” and “aggressive.” “We are an independent and sovereign State. We decide our foreign policy. We didn't expect such behavior from China," Momin had said that time. 

The pandemic, rising global inflation, and increasing debt issues along with other conditions have created more space for regional countries to engage with the United States and the west.
In Bangladesh's case, bilateral ties with the US are growing substantially, both diplomatically and economically, notwithstanding Washington’s sanctions on Bangladesh’s elite paramilitary forces RAB.

(SAM)

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