China has time and again displayed its big brother attitude towards its smaller neighbours. Given China’s fear of growing Indian military power, it has been tightening its noose around Asia. Its erstwhile strategy of encircling India with the ‘String of Pearls’ theory was a failure and now desperately wants to check the ever-growing relationship between India and the USA. This was quite evident when recently the Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh, Li Jiming was quoted to be saying, “Obviously it will not be a good idea for Bangladesh to participate in this small club four (meaning the Quad) because it will substantially damage our bilateral relationship.” In the course of his speech, he even branded the Quad as an ‘Asian NATO’.
Now, Quad is a group of four nations, as the name suggests, and includes India, the USA, Australia and Japan. Interestingly, this group has, for the matter of fact, not even expressed any intention to include more countries, at least for the time being. This shows how nervous China is currently with India and its allies. In the Ladakh episode last year, where it had to suffer equal loss, India had proven its might both militarily and diplomatically. With India gaining the bonus points by helping its neighbours with covid supplies and vaccines, it already enjoys a better rapport with many Asian countries. China has always expressed its discontent over India’s closeness with the USA. China believes that the Quad is nothing but a US effort to rally countries around China to work against it. Though the Bangladesh government rebuffed the statement and urged the foreign envoy to maintain decency and decorum while speaking in public, the hold of China over Bangladesh was very evident in the episode.
For India, it would want to make as many friends as possible in its competition against China. However, the growing Hindutva agenda in India is not proving to be well suited for its ties with Bangladesh. The repeated mention of immigrants (Bangladeshi) by Indian Prime Minister Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah seems to be not going down well in Dhaka. Though the BJP led NDA government has stated that the immigrant problem is an internal issue of the country and that Bangladesh has nothing to worry about, it is quite evident which way the people start moving once the immigrants are chased away. Bangladesh has already mentioned that no Bangladeshi is living in India illegally and hence made it clear that no one will be taken in from the Indian borders. At a time when India needs more allies in Asia, especially when it’s a neighbour, the next move of the Indian foreign ministry will be interesting.