US Secretary of State Michael (Mike) Pompeo said on 8 July the “incredibly aggressive” actions of China along the border with India were a reflection of the “behaviour” of General Secretary and President Xi Jinping in the region and the world. He held the Chinese leadership directly accountable for PLA’s skirmish with the Indian Army in May-June.
“I put this in the context of General Secretary Xi Jinping and his behaviour throughout the region (and) the world,” Pompeo said referring to the president of China by his party title. He was replying to a question about the ongoing India-China border tensions at a news conference.
“I don’t think it is possible to look at that particular instance — the Chinese Communist Party aggression (the border conflict with India) — in isolation; you need to be put it in the larger context.” Pompeo said.
The secretary of state pointed at the instances of maritime as well as land boundary disputes China has with its neighbours. He said the fights the Chinese Communist Party has “engaged in is unequal to any place in the world”.
Pompeo said there was hardly a neighbour of China that could say with satisfaction where their sovereignty would apply, which the Chinese would respect. “That is certainly true now for the people of Bhutan as well,” the secretary of state said, bringing up the newest of China’s border disputes. Beijing announced last week the boundary with Bhutan have never been “delimited” and that there have been “disputes over the eastern, central and western sectors for a long time.”
This was in addition to all the other continuing 14 territorial disputes, with India, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines and others, Pompeo said.
The US has been unequivocal in its support of India in this round of border tensions with China. Washington DC has squarely blamed Beijing for the military standoff with New Delhi. It has pinned the blame mostly on the Chinese Communist Party and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA, the Chinese military). Today, through the words of its secretary of state, the US indicted none less than China’s ‘permanent’ president.
Pompeo has led the Trump administration’s increasing attacks on China over a growing range of issues from the COVID-19 epidemic to the suppression of Uighur minorities, the new national security law for Hong Kong and the border conflict with India.
Two US aircraft carriers began the largest naval exercises in recent years in the South China Sea on 4 July. The move clearly sends “an unambiguous signal to our partners and allies that we are committed to regional security and stability”, commander of the strike group Rear Admiral George M Wikoff told The Wall Street Journal.
Trump administration officials have signalled a more direct link to the India-China border conflict. “The message is clear,” Mark Meadows, President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, told Fox News on 6 July. “Our military might stands strong and will continue to stand strong, whether it’s in relation to a conflict between India and China or anywhere else,” Pompeo added.