US secretary of state Mike Pompeo on Wednesday (8) denounced China’s “aggression” toward India and said that a fresh dispute over Bhutan showed Beijing’s plan of “bullying.”
The remarks were the most extensive by the top US diplomat since a deadly clash between the world’s two most populous nations on June 15, which killed 20 Indian soldiers and sent tensions soaring.
“The Chinese took incredibly aggressive action. Indians have done their best to respond to that,” Pompeo told a news conference, saying he had spoken about the tensions several times with Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
Since the incident with India, China has taken issue with an international grant application by Bhutan for a wildlife sanctuary, saying the border with the Himalayan kingdom was in dispute.
Pompeo linked China’s statements on Bhutan, whose foreign policy is guided by New Delhi, to Beijing’s island disputes with Vietnam and Japan.
“There aren’t many neighbors that can satisfactorily say that they know where their sovereignty ends and that the Chinese Communist Party will respect that sovereignty,” Pompeo said.
“Beijing has a pattern of instigating territorial disputes. The world shouldn’t allow this bullying to take place.”
Pompeo is known for his hawkish views on China but had been unusually restrained in public comments on the tensions between Beijing and New Delhi, only offering condolences via Twitter over India’s loss of life.
Experts say that India, despite a growing relationship with the United States, does not want to be seen as following Washington’s lead on issues touching on its own sovereignty.
US president Donald Trump has offered to mediate between India and China, although officials in the three countries have not provided details.