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Chinese aggression along borders is to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic when the world is distracted, says US diplomat

Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell said that the Chinese government is unleashing its forces at a time when the world is distracted, adding that the Trump administration is closely watching the Indo-China situation.

The ongoing Chinese aggression along the Line of Actual Control and China opening multiple fronts of territorial disputes may be a ploy by the Chinese establishment to take advantage of the situation at a time when the world is distracted due to coronavirus pandemic, a top American diplomat said on Thursday.

Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell said that the Chinese government is unleashing its forces at a time when the world is distracted, adding that the Trump administration is closely watching the Indo-China situation. The latest Chinese activities with India is similar to Beijing’s past activities on India border including Doklam, Stilwell said at a press conference.

“One explanation for China creating multiple fronts like this is an assessment in Beijing that the world is distracted and is focused entirely on survival as of now, recovering from the corona pandemic, which then possibly is seen as an opportunity to take advantage of the distraction,” Stilwell said.

The US diplomat added that though he is not offering an official US Government position on the issue, but there are already numerous explanations out there for that in the public domain regarding the aggressive Chinese behaviour with its neighbours, including India.

US administration is watching India-China border dispute closely

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‘The US administration is watching the India-China border dispute very closely’, Stilwell said to the reporters after the meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi to exchange views on bilateral relations and coronavirus pandemic.

“This activity is similar to the activity we’ve seen in the past on border disputes with the PRC (Peoples Republic of China), and again, I would point you to those – I think it was 2015 when Xi Jinping travelled to India the first time,” he said.

Highlighting the aggressive behaviour of the Chinese, the US diplomat also stated that the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) invaded this contested area deeper and longer, with more people than ever before historically. “Whether that was a negotiating tactic or just a punch in the nose to demonstrate their superiority, I don’t know,” the diplomat said.

“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” Stilwell said.

Earlier, the State Department official had also expressed concern over the recent Chinese aggression in the region. “The actions that we’ve seen out of the PRC of late – and you all know this as you watch the beat – have been not really constructive as we look at India, the South China Sea, Hong Kong issues, and just go around the perimeter. In the periphery things like trade have not lived up to the billing, unfortunately,” Stilwell said.

US insists China disclose everything about coronavirus pandemic: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

The US seeks a constructive and result-oriented relationship that is fair and reciprocal with China, the senior diplomat said, adding that the US seeks actions rather than just conversations. Stilwell said that, Pompeo, during his meeting with the Chinese, has insisted on the Chinese disclosing all they know about how this pandemic began and asked them to share all the information that they have that leads to saving lives.

“This is not about saving face; it’s about saving lives. And we insist that they live up to their agreements with the WHO and with the international health regulations to make open as this is beyond politics,” he said.

The US diplomat added that Chinese aggression and its reluctance to be transparent is not just a US-China event. but ‘China versus lots of others’. We just saw a very strong G7 statement on Hong Kong that demonstrates that it’s the world that’s concerned with this behaviour, the diplomat added.

“The objective of these talks was to help the Chinese government understand that their actions are actually working against them and that if they come to the table with a reasonable proposal, the US is obviously going to greet it reasonably and look for ways to work toward a positive outcome,” Stilwell said.

US expresses deepest condolences for loss of Indian soldiers’ lives

The United States on Thursday expressed its deepest condolences to India for the loss of lives of 20 Indian soldiers in a face-off with China on Monday night.

“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,” United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo has said.

Indian troops killed by Chinese aggression along LAC

The Indian Army on Tuesday had released a statement saying that at least 20 Indian soldiers had been martyred, including the Commanding Officer of a battalion at Galwan valley in a violent faceoff on Monday night. The Indian soldiers were killed in an unprecedented violent clash with PLA troopers in the Galwan Valley on Monday night.

The official statement said that it took place during the de-escalation process underway in the Galwan valley. It reported that no bullets were fired but the Chinese troops pelted stones and used clubs and batons.

During the clashes, the Chinese troops have also suffered severe casualties as at least 43 Chinese troops are either injured or dead during the attacks that took place on Monday night, as per reports.

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