On May 21, Bangladesh’s foreign minister AK Abdul Momen spoke to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi when Beijing pledged to provide 6,00,000 doses of the China-made Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccines to Dhaka.
The desperate call for help from Dhaka came barely days after a diplomatic tiff between the two countries when China’s envoy in Dhaka, Li Jiming, bluntly warned Bangladesh not to consider joining the Quad – the India-Australia-United States-Japan grouping – as doing so would “substantially damage” the bilateral relationship.
This earned a sharp response from Momen who told reporters that “as a sovereign country, Bangladesh will determine the course of its foreign policy in the interest of its people” and “urged foreign envoys in Dhaka to maintain decency and decorum while speaking in public”.
It is tempting to jump at this evidence of China’s new “wolf warrior diplomacy”, significant enough to be a salutary warning for all the countries in India’s neighbourhood and something that should work in New Delhi’s favour.
But only a day after Momen’s statement on the Chinese envoy’s remarks, Dhaka tweeted a picture of the Bangladeshi foreign minister receiving a package of Sinopharm vaccines from Li and thanked China for “gifting 5,00,000 vaccines”.