Border disputes are a ‘reminder of threat posed by China’: US on Indo-China skirmish

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on May 21, 2020

The United States on Wednesday strongly criticized China and extended its support to India over the cross border skirmishes that took place recently along the Indo-China border, as per media reports.

Alice Wells, the outgoing head of the state department’s South and Central Asia bureau, said to media that the like-minded nations such as the US, India, Australia, and other ASEAN states have rallied together in the face of China’s “provocations and disturbing behaviour.”

Wells, who is the Trump administration’s point person for South Asia, also said that such disputes are a “reminder of the threat posed by China.”

The statement was made after the growing geopolitical tension between India and China in Ladakh and Sikkim sectors of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), where both the countries resorted to deploying additional troops. China on Tuesday also accused Indian forces of crossing into Chinese territory.

The US top diplomat further appreciated India’s role in the ongoing diplomatic talks with Afghanistan and said that it is on New Delhi to decide whether it wants to directly engage with the Taliban.

However, she suggested to India that it should hold diplomatic talks with the Taliban as it is set to join the emerging government structure in Kabul. It will help India and Afghanistan to “have a healthy relationship.”

Answering a question on the recent India-China tensions, Wells replied: “The flare-ups on the border, I think, are a reminder that Chinese aggression is not always just rhetorical. And so whether it’s in the South China Sea or whether it’s along the border with India, we continue to see provocations and disturbing behaviour by China that raises questions about how China seeks to use its growing power.”

She added, “What we want to see is an international system that provides benefit to everyone and not a system in which there is suzerainty to China. And so I think in this instance, the border disputes are a reminder of the threat posed by China.”

China’s actions have led to a “rallying of like-minded nations, whether it’s through Asean or through other diplomatic groupings – the trilateral that the US has with Japan and India or the quadrilateral with Australia – and conversations that are taking place globally”, Wells said.

India is and will remain a “critical player” in Afghanistan and this was reflected in US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad’s decision to travel to New Delhi amid the Covid-19 lockdown for consultations with the Indian leadership last week, Wells added.

Khalilzad had said in an interview that India should engage with the Taliban. Asked about the issue, Wells replied: “We defer to India as to whether it wants to engage directly with the Taliban.

“But in a situation where we are seeking through a negotiated political settlement to have the Taliban as part of that political governing structure, that government’s relationship with India should be close, and we believe that a healthy Afghanistan is going to need to have a healthy relationship with India.”

US, China, India, cross border tension, Afghanistan, Taliban, geopolitics

Published on May 21, 2020

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