International

China Warned US Forces Not To Interfere In Its Standoff With India: Pentagon Report

This report comes on the heels of a recent snub when China on November 21 gathered 19 countries in Kunming including all countries from South Asia, except India, to attend a first Indian Ocean Region Forum on Development Cooperation (IORFDC).

Narendra Modi meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping during the 11th BRICS Summit
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In a report to the US Congress on Tuesday, Pentagon said China has warned American officials not to interfere in its relationship with India. Throughout its standoff with India along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Chinese officials sought to downplay the severity of the crisis, emphasising Beijing's intent to preserve border stability and its bilateral relationship with India.

In a section on the China-India border, the Pentagon said throughout 2021, the People' Liberation Army (PLA) sustained the deployment of forces and continued infrastructure build-up along the LAC. Negotiation made minimal progress as both sides resist losing perceived advantages on the border, it said. "The PRC (People's Republic of China) seeks to prevent border tensions from causing India to partner more closely with the United States. PRC officials have warned US officials to not interfere with the PRC's relationship with India," the Pentagon said in its latest report on Chinese military build-up.

The 2020 Galwan Valley incident was the deadliest clash between the two nations in past 46 years, the report said. Beginning in May 2020, Chinese and Indian forces faced off in clashes with rocks, batons, and clubs, wrapped in barbed wire at multiple locations along the LAC. On June 15, 2020, patrols violently clashed in Galwan Valley resulting in the death of approximately 20 Indian soldiers and four PLA soldiers, it said. The resulting standoff triggered the build-up of forces on both sides of the border. "Each country demanded the withdrawal of the other's forces and a return to pre-standoff conditions, but neither China nor India agreed on those conditions," it said.

The Indian Ocean Snub

This report comes on the heels of a recent snub when China on November 21 gathered 19 countries in Kunming including all countries from South Asia, except India, to attend a first Indian Ocean Region Forum on Development Cooperation (IORFDC).

The foreign ministries of Sri Lanka, Madagascar and Mauritius were also left out, and on November 15, the Maldives government decided not to participate. However, the virtual meeting was attended by Mohammed Waheed, a pro-China former president of Maldives who threw out Indian GMR from an airport operations contract during his tenure. From Australia, former prime minister Kevin Rudd attended the meet in his capacity as head of a think tank that also has an India chapter. It was during his tenure as Australian prime minister that Australia walked out of the Malabar 2008 naval exercises after China demarched India, US, Australia, Japan, and Singapore for Malabar 2007 naval exercises.

The China-led forum could be interpreted to have been aimed at countering New Delhi’s traditional influence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) where the Indian Ocean Rim Association, (IORA), with India as a founding member, has taken root. The IORA’s purpose is to strengthen regional cooperation within the IOR and it currently has 23 members and 10 dialogue partners. China is a dialogue partner in the IORA.

Besides the IORA, Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed Security And Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) in 2015 for active cooperation among IOR littoral countries. The Indian Navy-backed ‘Indian Ocean Naval Symposium’, seeks to increase maritime cooperation among the naval forces in the region.

Ties between India and China are at its worst in decades since the June 2020 Galwan Valley clash between the border troops of the two countries. India has consistently maintained that peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) are critical for the overall development of bilateral relations with China.

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