U.S. following India-China face-off ‘closely’, says regional envoy Stilwell

Secretary Mike Pompeo condoles death of Indian soldiers

A top U.S. diplomat on Thursday said China’s actions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India could be a negotiating tactic or a manoeuvre to demonstrate its superiority.

David Stilwell, the U.S.’s top diplomat for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, also said the U.S. was following the India-China conflict “very closely”. Later in the day, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted a message of condolence about the Indian soldiers who were killed in this week’s conflict.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the people of India for the lives lost as a result of the recent confrontation with China. We will remember the soldiers’ families, loved ones, and communities as they grieve,” Mr. Pompeo said. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in clashes in the Galwan Valley.

Past disputes

“What we’re doing... we’re obviously watching the India-China border dispute very closely... this activity is similar to activity we’ve seen in the past on border disputes with the PRC [People’s Republic of China] and again, I would point you to those,” Mr. Stilwell said. He was speaking during a briefing with reporters on Mr. Pompeo’s meeting with Chinese Communist Party Politburo member Yang Jiechi.

“The PLA invaded this contested area deeper and longer, with more people, than ever before historically. Again, whether that was a negotiating tactic or ... just a punch in the nose to demonstrate their superiority, I don’t know. But then we saw the Doklam issue down near Bhutan, where we saw similar concerns. I wish I knew. Again, we don’t have a lot of visibility and we don’t have a lot of open dialogue with our Chinese counterparts, and honestly I’d like to see more of that if we can,” Mr. Stilwell said.

His comments were in response to a question on whether there was a coherent policy behind Chinese fighters approaching Taiwan recently, China’s legislative actions in Hong Kong and the India-China border clash.

“The actions that we’ve seen out of the PRC of late... have been not really constructive as we look at India, the South China Sea, Hong Kong issues, and just go around the perimeter,” Mr. Stilwell added.

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