‘Pattern of aggression’: White House’s sharpest remark yet against China on Ladakh face-off
The Trump White House on Wednesday blamed Chinese “aggression” unequivocally in the sharpest remarks yet over the ongoing border confrontation with India.
President Donald Trump has said that “China’s aggressive stance along the India-China border fits with a larger a pattern of Chinese aggression in other parts of the world and these action only confirm the true nature of the Chinese Communist Party”, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said quoting the president from her notes at the daily briefing.
This was much further than the studied neutral tone the White House had maintained thus far on the dispute, according to close observers of India-US relations in Washington.
It was “closely monitoring” the situation, the White House had said after the deadly clashes of June 15. And the press secretary and then “noted” and “condoled” the death of Indian soldiers, and had gone on to say, deploying standard diplomatese, the US hoped for a “peaceful resolution” of the situation.
The Trump White House had not given up on all of that still. “We’re closely monitoring the situation; he is as well. Both India and China have expressed a desire to deescalate, and we support a peaceful resolution of the current situation,” McEnany said before rolling out the new and more aggressive White House line.
It reflected a shaper position that had been evolving around the White house, and outside, specially as laid out by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It puts the India-China border issue in the larger context of Chinese aggressive behavior in the South China Sea and elsewhere in the world, the internment of its own Uighur muslims at home and changing its relationship with Hong Kong in violation of its international commitments.
On Wednesday, Pompeo offered full-throated support for the Indian ban on Chinese apps, which, he said “can serve as appendages of the CCP’s surveillance state. India’s Clean App approach will boost India’s sovereignty.”
There is bipartisan purchase in US Congress of China’s responsibility in triggering the border clashes. Tom Cotton, a Republican senator and close ally of the president, has said that “China has essentially invaded India, an ally of ours”. Marco Rubio, another Republican senator, has called Chinese actions at the border “unwarranted & lawless armed aggression”.
Brad Sherman, a senior Democratic member of the House of Representatives, has slammed “Chinese aggression” for the June 15 clashes. Sherman is also the co-chair of House India caucus.
The growing chorus of US support for India in this confrontation with China is unlikely to lead to any tangible action on the ground; both parties have already turned down a mediation offer from President Trump, which he made on May 27 and has not mentioned it again since.
But Beijing, which, observers said, has made no secret of its mounting worries about India getting closer to the United States, will feel “pressured” to consider if it had, in fact, succeeded in pushing India further towards the US with the Galwan Valley over-reach. And that, for the moment, is all that the New Delhi in understood to be seeking as part of its larger effort to resolve the situation.