Chinese envoy’s comment unwanted, breaches diplomatic norms
In general, diplomacy is the established method of influencing decisions, behaviour of foreign governments and peoples through dialogue, negotiation, and other peaceful measures. And professionally diplomacy means conducting official duties while maintaining bilateral relations between independent and sovereign states. However, a diplomatic dilemma erupts when one party acts beyond by violating diplomatic norms and customs. However, violating diplomatic codes of conduct are potentially strong to strain relations while it acts as signs of dominating attitude.
With the holy month of Ramadan fast reaching its end and the present Covid-19 crisis still remains as a great concern - an unanticipated comment by a diplomat has taken the country by surprise raising concerns.
While speaking at a virtually held programme with the members of Diplomatic Correspondents Association of Bangladesh (DCAB), the Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming has clearly as well as bluntly declared that - "Bangladesh and China's bilateral relations will be damaged; in case Bangladesh joins the US led QUAD military alliance."
Whether it is his opinion or Chinese government's policy is yet to be clear. If it is his personal view we would say it is 'unwanted, unexpected and breach of diplomatic norms,'. His public comment came at a time when Chinese 'gift' of five lakh doses of Covid-19 vaccines reach Dhaka today (Wednesday) as a token of friendly gesture from his government to Bangladesh.
Few days back Chinese Defense Minister visited Dhaka but he made no public comments on QUAD issue.
The QUAD is an informal strategic alliance between the United States, Japan, Australia and India. Moreover, it is no secret that this diplomatic and military arrangement is widely viewed as a response to counter growing Chinese economic and military influence in Asia and Australia. However, the Chinese government responded to the Quadrilateral dialogue by issuing formal diplomatic protests to QUAD move.
Considering military threats of QUAD, Chinese government surely has fundamental and legal rights to launch protests against QUAD member states, but the country is in no position to dictate and dominate over another independent country's foreign policy by preventing that country from joining QUAD or any other alliance for that matter.
In the virtually held DCAB programme, the Chinese Ambassador also said - "Quad was a 'narrow-purposed' geopolitical clique, and Bangladesh should not join it, since it will not derive any benefit from it."
How can a foreign envoy be so sure from which alliance Bangladesh can derive benefits or not? Additionally, is it a sign of diplomatic professionalism by an Ambassador to offer unsolicited advice to a sovereign country at a press meet?
Regarding Chinese envoy's somewhat sweeping statement, we would say, we have recently observed the 50th anniversary of our independence and now Bangladesh is by no means devoid of astute and well- trained foreign policy makers. Our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has laid down the cornerstone of Bangladesh's foreign policy with the principle of "Friendship to all, malice to none". Her daughter Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her government are following the policy of the Father of the Nation.
We don't consider it fair and appropriate for a responsible diplomat to intervene in Bangladesh's internal affairs while influencing the country's sensitive policy making procedures. It is not only applicable for the Chinese Ambassador but for all diplomats working in Bangladesh.
China has been our important trade, strategic and development partner for decades. In the past decade the bilateral-ties of the two countries have grown even further. Ambassador Li Jiming himself also is trying to contribute to further promote Dhaka-Beijing relations. So his unexpected comment may strain the growing relations for which he is posted here by his government.
Despite our closer ties with Beijing, it is imperative not to violate clearly demarcated diplomatic lines and boundaries, otherwise sensitive words and actions can damage friendly and close bilateral relations. The Chinese envoy should realise that, with or without QUAD member countries putting pressure on Bangladesh to join the group - Bangladesh government has till now reportedly displayed any enthusiasm to be a part of the QUAD alliance.
Most importantly, in terms of formulating international relations policies or security alliances, the task is up to our politicians and government policy makers to chalk out our diplomatic roadmap defending national interests and dignity. Third party states should refrain from dictating or influencing our policy making processes.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government has been open to regular and meaningful diplomatic engagements. We also advocate pro-active diplomacy aiming to strengthen bilateral ties.
We, however, do not expect and encourage any type of 'Domineering or 'Wolf warrior diplomacy' to dictate our international relations and brand our country as a pro-China or an anti-China labelling.
Usage of confrontational rhetoric in diplomacy, especially by diplomats in public, does not serve any long-term peaceful purpose; rather it is divisive, hegemonic and provokes backlash of domineering diplomacy.