China hardening positions along India border: US Defence Secretary

China has continued to harden its positions along the border with India, and countries in the region should have to face political intimidation by Beijing, US Defence Secretary Lloyd J Austin said Saturday. The comments come just days after a top US Army general had said that China’s infrastructure development along the entire area opposite the border with India is alarming.

Speaking at the Shangri La Dialogue, a security conference organised by the International Institute of Strategic Studies in Singapore, where top Chinese leaders are also present, Austin said, “We are seeing Beijing continuing to harden its position along the border that it shares with India.” He added that the “Indo-Pacific countries shouldn’t face political intimidation, economic coercion or harassment by maritime militias”.

“In the East China Sea, China is expanding its fishing fleet (which) is sparking tensions with its neighbors,” Austin said. In the South China Sea, China is using “outposts on man-made islands bristling with advanced weaponry to advance its illegal maritime claims.”

He added, “We are seeing (Chinese) vessels plunder the region’s provisions, operating illegally within the territorial waters of other Indo-Pacific countries.”

Best of Express Premium
The legacy of Sethurama Iyer and where the CBI franchise should have endedPremium
Haryana Rajya Sabha cliffhanger: Bishnoi and Kiran, Hooda detractors who ...Premium
Newsmaker | Kartikeya Sharma: The media baron and son of a veteran politi...Premium
Gather Network wants to disrupt the ad-led business model of websites; he...Premium

Speaking about India as a partner for the US in the region, Austin said, “We are also weaving closer ties with other partners. I’m especially thinking of India, the world’s largest democracy. We believe that its growing military capability and technological prowess can be a stabilising force in the region.”

Commenting on Beijing’s actions in the Indo-Pacific region, Austin mentioned, “We are seeing growing coercion from Beijing. We have witnessed a steady increase in provocative and destabilising military activity near Taiwan. We remain focused on maintaining peace, stability and the status quo across the Taiwan Strait.”

But, he said, China’s “moves threaten to undermine security, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific. That’s crucial for this region, and it’s crucial for the wider world. Maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait isn’t just a US interest. It’s a matter of international concern”.

Austin said that the US is working closely “with both our competitors and our friends to strengthen the guardrails against conflict”.

He specifically mentioned that it includes “fully open lines of communication with China’s defense leaders to ensure that we can avoid any miscalculations. These are deeply important conversations and the United States is fully committed to doing our part”.

Austin and China’s Defence Minister Wei Fenghe held a bilateral meeting on Friday on the sidelines of the event. Austin’s remarks come three days after General Charles A Flynn, Commanding General of the United States Army Pacific, said in Delhi on June 8 about infrastructure build up, “I believe that the activity level is eye-opening. I think some of the infrastructure that is being created in the Western Theatre Command is alarming.”

He added that “much like across all of their military arsenal, one has to ask the question, why? The question comes as to what are their intentions?” The People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Western Theatre Command is responsible for the 3,488-km long border with India.

The next day China responded to Flynn’s comment by stating that he is fanning the fire. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in his press briefing that “some US officials have pointed fingers and sought to fan the flame and drive a wedge between the two countries”.

Calling it disgraceful, Zhao had said, “We hope the US could do more things that contribute to regional peace and stability.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button