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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (Reuters)
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (Reuters)

Mike Pompeo says China using tactical situation on ground to its advantage

  • Threats like the one happening on China's border with India have been making for an awfully long time, he said
  • 'US department of defence is doing everything it can to make sure it understands this threat'

NEW DELHI: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has slammed China for using a tactical situation on the ground to its advantage and threatening its neighbours like India and others.

The remarks came as China’s state-backed Global Times in an article warned India against thinking of taking advantage of the US-China frictions. Tensions between the two countries have been high over a range of issue,s including the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“If in a new Cold War, India leans toward the US or becomes a US pawn attacking China, the economic and trade ties between the two Asian neighbors will suffer a devastating blow. And it would be too much for the Indian economy to take such a hit at the current stage," the Chinese state backed Global Times said in an article posted on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Pompeo who was responding to a question on aggressive Chinese behaviour on the India-China border and in the South China Sea during an interview with Fox News, overnight Monday, said the threat from China was real.

"The Chinese Communist Party has been on this effort, on this march, for an awfully long time. They'll certainly use a tactical situation on the ground to their advantage. But each of the problems that you identified there are threats that they have been making for an awfully long time," he said.

Threats like the one that is happening on China's border with India have been making for an awfully long time, the Secretary of State said.

“I am confident that under President (Donald) Trump, our Department of Defence, our military, our national security establishment will keep us in a position where we can protect the American people, and indeed we can be good partners with our allies from India, from Australia, from South Korea, from Japan, from Brazil, from Europe, all around the world," Pompeo said.

The comments come as the India-China border face off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) was entering its fourth week with another around of talks between military commanders and diplomats on the cards. India-China border problems are not new. They date back to a 1962 border conflict that ended badly for India. There have been stand offs in 2013, 2014 and 2017 but analysts say the difference this time is in the number of incidents happening near simultaneously and the numbers of troops involved. There have been multiple incidents in the Ladakh area where the Chinese have objected to two roads that India has been constructing as part of its efforts to upgrade infrastructure along the LAC.

US President Donald Trump had in a surprise move last week offered to mediate between the two countries which both India and China declined.

“With nationalist sentiment on the rise in India, there have been some voices calling for the Indian government to join the new Cold War and exploit its position for more gains," the Global Times piece said.

“Fundamentally speaking, India has little to gain from engaging in a US-China conflict over any topic, with more to lose than gain, which is why the Modi government needs to face the new geopolitical development objectively and rationally," it said.

Under the current circumstance, India needs to be careful not to include the US factor in its handling of any problem in its relations with China, otherwise it will only complicate the issue. The same is true of the recent China-India border tension, and the offer of US mediation is unnecessary and the last thing both sides could use. China and India have the ability to resolve their problems, and there is no need for any third-party intervention," it said.

In his remarks, Pompeo warned that Chinese President Xi Jinping was intent on building China’s military capabilities.

“Our Department of Defence is doing everything it can to make sure it understands this threat," he said.

"This is a Chinese Communist Party that has come to view itself as intent upon the destruction of Western ideas, Western democracies, Western values. It puts Americans at risk," Pompeo said.

The list is long, whether it's stealing American intellectual property, destroying hundreds and millions of jobs here in the US, or their efforts to put at risk sea lanes in the South China Sea, denying commercial traffic the opportunity to move through, armed encampments in places that China has no right to be," Pompeo said.

"For the first time we have a President of the United States who is prepared to push back against that and protect the American people,“ he added, referring to Trump’s tough statements and actions against China since taking office.

(PTI contributed to this report)

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