United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Thursday that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army seems to have provoked the violent clash with its Indian counterpart earlier this week, in order to grab Indian territory, PTI reported. In a speech, McConnell also alleged that China was the biggest foreign policy threat to the United States and its allies.

“Needless to say, the rest of the world has watched with grave concern this violent exchange between two nuclear states,” McConnell said of the India-China standoff. “We are encouraging de-escalation and hoping for peace.”

At least 20 Indian soldiers were killed and 76 injured during a clash with the Chinese Army in Galwan Valley in Ladakh on June 15. China has not released the number of its soldiers who died. This is the first instance of casualties on the Line of Actual Control since 1975. On June 16, New Delhi had blamed the confrontation on Beijing’s attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the area.

It could not be clearer that China is hell-bent on “brutalising people” within their own borders, McConnell said. While challenging and remaking the international order, China wishes to literally redraw the world map, he alleged.

“At sea, they have stepped up their menacing of Japan near the Senkaku Islands,” McConnell said of China. “In the skies, Chinese jets have intruded into Taiwanese airspace four separate times in a matter of days.”

The Senate majority leader accused China of using the coronavirus pandemic as a cover to increase oppression of the people of Hong Kong and strengthen its control over the semi-autonomous region.

On May 28, China’s rubber stamp legislature voted to approve a new security law for Hong Kong that will make it a criminal offence to subvert Beijing’s authority in the region. The controversial law is aimed at curbing protests, prohibiting subversion, separatism, “acts of foreign interference” and terrorism. On June 4, the Hong Kong legislature approved a contentious bill that makes insulting China’s national anthem a criminal offence.

US secretary of state offers condolences to Indians

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered condolences to India for the loss of the lives of its soldiers. “We extend our deepest condolences to the people of India for the lives lost as a result of the recent confrontation with China,” Pompeo tweeted. “We will remember the soldiers’ families, loved ones, and communities as they grieve.”