New York: While accusing Beijing of bullying its neighbours, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that Washington hopes there would be a peaceful settlement of the escalating tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China.
“We are hoping for a peaceful resolution of the situation on the India-China border,” he said at a news conference in Washington.
“From the Taiwan Strait to the Himalayas and beyond, the Chinese Communist Party is engaged in a clear and intensifying pattern of bullying its neighbours,” he said.
In the latest confrontation, New Delhi has said that China carried out “provocative military movements” on the southern bank of Pangong Tso lake between Sunday and Monday but Indian troops stopped them from moving into its territory.
This followed clashes between the troops of the two countries in June in which 20 Indian soldiers and some Chinese troops were killed.
Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, David Stillwell, who spoke to reporters after Pompeo, attributed China’s intensifying aggressiveness from the Himalayas to Taiwan to Beijing’s attempts to take advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“What we’ve seen since the corona outbreak from Wuhan is it seems the PRC (Peoples Republic of China) is trying to take advantage of the situation, and India, I think, is one of those examples of that,” he said.
He declined to say how the US would help India if the tensions worsened, indicative of Washington’s limitations in stepping into the conflict.
Asked by a reporter if the US would share intelligence with India or help it, he said that he would “defer that question to others who are more closely related to the Indian part”.
“For the conflict in the Himalayas, like all things, especially, related to the PRC’s differences of opinion with its neighbours, we advise them to return to dialogue, resolve these things peacefully without coercion or use of force,” he said.
“Our friends in Beijing, I would ask them to follow their commitment to resolve these things through peaceful means and dialogue.”
Pompeo said that he would be holding virtual meetings next week with his Indo-Pacific and ASEAN counterparts.
During the wide-ranging discussions, he said: “I will also raise how the Trump administration is restoring reciprocity to the US-China relationship.”
He announced several restrictions on Chinese diplomats in the US, mirroring some of the conditions Beijing has placed on Washington’s diplomats.
Pompeo also asked China to hold talks with the Dalai Lama and criticised Beijing’s actions in Tibet.
“We are also concerned about Chinese actions in Tibet, in the light of the General Secretary’s recent calls to Sinicise Tibetan Buddhism and fight splitism there,” he said.
China’ President Xi Jinping also holds the title of the Communist Party’s General Secretary.
“We continue to call upon Beijing to enter into dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives without preconditions to reach a settlement that resolves their differences,” Pompeo said.