The United States has taken note of the Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming's statement warning Bangladesh against joining the "Quad", a top US State Department official has said.
State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at his daily news conference on Tuesday that the US has an incredibly strong relationship with Bangladesh.
"We have taken note of that statement from the PRC (People's Republic of China) ambassador to Bangladesh.
"What we would say is that we respect Bangladesh's sovereignty and we respect Bangladesh's right to make foreign policy decisions for itself," Price said.
The US, India, Japan and Australia are part of an informal strategic alliance - the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad as it is known - initiated in 2007.
Earlier on Monday, Ambassador Li Jiming said Bangladesh should not join "Quad" and Dhaka's relations with Beijing will "substantially get damaged" if it joins it.
He termed "Quad" a military alliance aiming against China's resurgence and its relationship with neighbouring countries.
The Ambassador said Quad was a "narrow-purposed" geopolitical clique, and Bangladesh should not join it as it will not derive any benefit from the initiative.
"History has proved again and again such partnership surely damages our neighbours' own social, economic development and people's wellbeing," Ambassador Li said.
The Chinese Ambassador was speaking at a programme with the members of the Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB) held virtually.
Later, Bangladesh's foreign minister Dr AK Abdul Momen described the Chinese envoy's comment as "very unfortunate" and "aggressive".
"We are an independent and sovereign state. We decide our foreign policy," he said.
Responding to a question regarding the topic, Ned Price said that the United States is close with like-minded countries on a range of issues from economic growth to climate change to humanitarian issues.
"When it comes to the Quad, we have said this before... it's an informal, essential, multilateral mechanism that right now convenes like-minded democracies, the United States, India, Australia and Japan to coordinate in the Indo-Pacific and fundamentally to push forward our goal of a free and open Indo-Pacific region," Price said.
The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD) or Quad was an initiative by then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and grew as a focused group for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
The initiative which was meant to facilitate conversation and cooperation among the four maritime democracies lasted till early 2008, after which it fell dysfunctional as Australia's Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd withdrew his country from the arrangement.
In 2017, the then US president, Donald Trump, took a step to revive the group, in an effort to outplay China on all fronts.
During the 2017 ASEAN Summits in Manila, all the member countries agreed to revive the quadrilateral alliance.
The USA under the leadership of Joe Biden laid emphasis on making the group more effective.
On March 12 this year, the Quad held its first 'Quadrilateral Security Dialogue' virtually with the participation of the chiefs of all member nations.
After the function, the White House said in a statement that the leaders had agreed to continue close cooperation to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific, including support for freedom of navigation, territorial integrity, and a stronger regional architecture through the Quad.
China vehemently opposed the formation of the Quad with a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman emphasising in March that exchanges and cooperation between countries should help expand mutual understanding and trust, instead of targeting or harming the interests of third parties.
The Quad member countries have resolved to uphold a rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific amid growing Chinese assertiveness in the strategically vital region.
The four Quad leaders have vowed to strive for an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, inclusive, healthy, anchored by democratic values, and unconstrained by coercion, sending a clear message to China against its aggressive actions in the region.