Washington, June 21:
The United States is talking to both India and China to help them resolve their ongoing border tensions, President Donald Trump said on Saturday.
“It’s a very tough situation. We’re talking to India. We’re talking to China. They’ve got a big problem there,” Trump told reporters at the White House before boarding Marine 1 on his way to his first post-COVID19 election rally in Oklahoma.
“They’ve come to blows, and we’ll see what happens. We’ll try and help them out,” Trump said when asked about his assessment of the situation between India and China.
Over the past few days, the entire Trump Administration has rallied behind India against the illegitimate incursions of the Chinese Army into the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh.
As many as 20 Indian soldiers achieved martyrdom in fierce clashes against Chinese intruders into Galwan Valley in Ladakh early this week. Indians, according to US intelligence sources, killed more than 35 Chinese soldiers during the skirmish.
The United States has accused China of escalating border tension with India and other neighbours by trying to take benefit of these countries’ busy fighting coronavirus pandemic.
“The PLA (People’s Liberation Army) has escalated border tensions with India, the world’s most populous democracy. It’s militarizing the South China Sea and illegally claiming more territory there, threatening vital sea lanes,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, in a major speech on China a day earlier.
In his virtual address on ‘Europe and the China Challenge’ during the 2020 Copenhagen Democracy Summit on Friday, Pompeo described the ruling Chinese Communist Party as a ‘rogue actor.’
Early this week, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the president is aware of the situation and the US is monitoring the situation between Indian and Chinese forces along the line of actual control in Eastern Ladakh.
During a phone call on June 2nd that Trump had with Prime Minister Modi, they did discuss the situation on the Indo-China border, McEnany said.
“Trump and Modi have a terrific relationship and trust between them,” Al Mason, co-chair of the Trump Victory Indian American Finance Committee said, adding that the statements coming from the White House, the State Department and the US Embassy in New Delhi is reflective of this.
Coming out in support of India, Texas Congressman Lance Gooden said that China cannot be trusted.
“As more news comes out about the deadly conflict between China and India, once again CHINA appears to be an aggressive bad actor,” the Republican Congressman said.
“The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) cannot be taken at their word, EVER,” Gooden said in a tweet.
On the Senate floor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that “on land, for the sake of grabbing territory, the PLA appears to have instigated the most violent clash between China and India since those nations went to war in 1962”.
Needless to say, the rest of the world has watched with grave concern this violent exchange between two nuclear states. We are encouraging de-escalation and hoping for peace,” McConnell said.
Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell earlier said that this Chinese activity is similar to activity the world has seen in the past on border disputes with the Peoples Republic of China.
“I would point you to those – I think it was 2015 when Xi Jinping traveled to India the first time,” he said.
“The PLA (People’s Liberation Army) invaded this contested area deeper and longer, with more people, than ever before historically. Whether that was a negotiating tactic or just a punch in the nose to demonstrate their superiority, I don’t know,” he told reporters early this week.
“But then we saw the Doklam issue down near Bhutan, where we saw similar concerns. I wish I knew. Again, we don’t have a lot of visibility and we don’t have a lot of open dialogue with our Chinese counterparts, and honestly I’d like to see more of that if we can,” Stillwell said.
US experts feel that the latest Chinese behavior will swing India towards China.
“Even before the latest flareup, a majority of Indian strategists saw Chinese assertiveness as India’s biggest foreign-policy challenge. This has resulted in an unspoken but unmistakable swing toward the US,” Jeff Smith from The Heritage Foundation think tank said.
“The bullying of US partners and allies needs to come at a cost,” Smith said in a tweet.