US backs India in border tensions with China

Top official asks Delhi to open talks with Taliban

US backs India in border tensions with China

Photo for representation.

Sandeep Dikshit

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 20

The US has come out in support of India in its current tensions on the border with China. It has also asked India to open talks with the Taliban considering that it will soon be a part of the governing structure in Kabul.

“The border dispute is a reminder that Chinese aggression is not always just rhetorical. So whether it is in South China Sea or whether it is along the border with India, we continue to see provocations and disturbing behaviour by China that raises questions how it seeks to use its growing power,’’ said Alice G Wells, US State Department’s top official for Central and South Asia.

This aggressive Chinese behaviour has led to a rallying of like-minded nations in the ASEAN or of US-led diplomatic groupings such as the trilateral with Japan and India or the quadrilateral that includes Australia, said Wells in her strongest backing of India in the land border dispute with China.

Accusing China of being extremely self-centered, Wells said this has led to conversations around the world about reinforcing the post-World War II principles of free and open trade that will help lift all boats “including the Chinese boat”.

“We want to see it an international system that provides benefit to everyone and not a system where there is suzerainty to China. In this instance the border disputes are a reminder of the threat posed by China,” she said in a webinar with journalists of the region.

Wells also had harsh words to say about China with respect to Nepal and Pakistan. Calling upon Nepal to accept a $ 500 million US loan to improve roads and electricity transmission, she said this would show that Nepal will not take “dictation from China’’. The US loan offer has turned controversial because it is linked with the Indo-Pacific Strategy, triggering opposition from a chunk of ruling Nepal Communist Party.

Wells said the Covid epidemic had made it incumbent upon China to write-off “predatory and unfair” loans to Pakistan for the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The project lacked transparency, guaranteed unfair rate of profits to Chinese companies and distorts Pakistan’s economy due to mass imbalance in trade with China. “We hope China will waive the loans and create a fair and transparent deal with Pakistan,” she said.

The senior official, who retires at the end of this month, said India still did not provide a level playing field for foreign companies and suggested that, its tariffs were too high to attract manufacturing companies.

Expanding on her suggestion that India opens talks with Taliban, Wells said there will come a stage when New Delhi will have to do business with the Afghan group after it enters Kabul’s governing structure. “That government’s (a joint Taliban-Ghani-Abdullah government) relationship with India should be close, she said.

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