US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on 1 May China had moved up its forces along the Line of Actual Control (LoAC) with India and made “continued efforts” to expand militarily in several places, seizing the opportunity to question Chinese economic expansionism seen in the Belt and Road initiative. He said, for the past 20 years, the US had not responded to these things in a real way.
In May, China had moved a large number of its troops to four points in the Ladakh sector’s Galwan Valley and Pangong Tso area, leading to the biggest confrontation with India after the Doklam episode in 2017. “We see even today increasing forces of China moved up to the north of India on the Line of Actual Control there on the Indian border. These are the kinds of actions that authoritarian regimes take and they have a real impact…” Pompeo told Marc Thiessen and Danielle Pletka of AEI’s ‘What The Hell Is Going On In The World’ podcast.
The US secretary of state, citing “Hong Kongers in Hong Kong”, said the US had a responsibility and the capability to push back against that to “ensure that the American people are properly served by the foreign policy that recognises the threats that emanate from China today”.
Pompeo said that the recent Chinese actions on the Indian border or Hong Kong or the South China Sea had been part of the Chinese behaviour in the recent past. “…It’s not just over the past six months. We’ve seen over the past number of years, continued Chinese build-out of the military capabilities and then continually more aggressive action. I mentioned India. You mentioned the South China Sea,” he said.
“We see these same kinds of things with them attempting to build ports around the world as part of their Belt and Road Initiative, places where they can move the People’s Liberation Army, Navy. We’ve seen their continued efforts to expand militarily,” he said.
“We’ve viewed the 1.5 billion people in the Chinese market as so important to the American economy, and the risk that the Chinese would respond by closing us out for the favour of some other nation – I think people have just been too worried about that to actually take the responses that we take to every other country that behaves in the way that China has done,” Pompeo said. President Donald Trump’s approach has been different, he said.
“Trump’s made it very clear whether it’s the signature issue on trade… reciprocal trade… and now beginning to move to all the other elements of power that the Chinese Communist Party is trying to expand,” Pompeo echoed the sentiment of his president.
The Communist Party of China (CPC) continues to hide and obfuscate and delay the global response to the coronavirus pandemic that began in Wuhan, Pompeo said. It has taken actions destroying the freedom of Hong Kong’s people, the US secretary of state said. “Those are just two pieces of the behaviour of this regime of the Chinese Communist Party. The nature and the activity that they’re undertaking, the continued efforts to steal intellectual property, to advance in the South China Sea,” he said.
Defence experts say that was in an apparent effort to arm-twist India to stop border construction projects including a 60-metre concrete bridge being built near Daulat Beg Oldie, the last military post south of the Karakoram Pass.
The Indian Army on 31 May dismissed a video showing a clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers in eastern Ladakh describing it as mischievous. The two-and-a-half-minute video ostensibly shows a brawl between Indian and Chinese troops on the banks of the Pangong lake.