China provoking our allies: US backs India
The US defence department sees the repeated provocations by China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India — including the latest clash in Tawang — as part of a growing trend by Beijing to assert itself over Washington’s allies and partners. This assessment in Washington was articulated by Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder at a briefing on Tuesday.
Stating that the defence department continues to closely watch developments along the LAC at the India-China border, he said: “We have seen the PRC (People’s Republic of China) continue to amass forces and build military infrastructure along the so-called LAC…. It does reflect though, and it’s important to point out, the growing trend by the PRC to assert itself and to be provocative in areas directed towards US allies and our partners in the Indo Pacific.”
Since the Galwan Valley clash of 2020, the Narendra Modi government has not yet shared its assessment of the reason for China disregarding border pacts with India to escalate tensions along the LAC.
Beijing, however, has time and again expressed displeasure over New Delhi’s deepening relationship with Washington, the most recent being on November 30 over Yudh-Abhyas-22 — the annual Indo-US military exercises which this time was conducted about 100km from the LAC in Uttarakhand.
Asked if Pentagon is “willing to provide more military support to India to help them handle China’s military threats at the border”, Ryder said: “We will continue to remain steadfast in our commitment to ensuring the security of our partners. And we fully support India’s ongoing efforts to de-escalate this situation.”
White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre, when asked if the Joe Biden administration was concerned about the heightened tensions between India and China, said: “We are glad to hear that both sides appear to have quickly disengaged from the clashes. We are closely monitoring the situation. We encourage India and China to utilise existing bilateral channels to discuss disputed boundaries.”
At a separate briefing in response to a question on the situation along the LAC against the backdrop of the Tawang clash, US state department spokesman Ned Price indicated that New Delhi and Washington had communicated over the latest friction.
“India is indeed an important strategic partner of the United States bilaterally, in the Quad, and other multilateral fora as well. So we’re always, with that in mind, in close contact with our Indian partners, both from our mission in India as well as from the state department here in Washington.