United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday said the recent border clashes initiated by the Chinese military against India in Ladakh are the latest example of the “unacceptable behaviour” of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, PTI reported. “We were deeply saddened by the deaths of 20 Indian service members,” he said.

Indian and Chinese troops clashed in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh along the disputed Line of Control on June 15. It led to the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers, the worst violence on the border since 1975. While China also lost personnel, it has not yet formally acknowledged any deaths of its soldiers. After this, four round of talks were held between the commanders of the two armies to work out details of disengagement from the stand-off areas.

In a virtual address at the annual “India Ideas Summit” of the US India Business Council, Pompeo also commended India’s recent decision to ban 59 Chinese mobile apps. He said the apps “present serious security risks for Indian people”.

“It is important that democracies like ours work together, especially as we see more clear than ever the true scope of the challenge posed by the Chinese communist party,” Pompeo added. “Our infrastructure projects, our supply chains, our sovereignty, and our people’s health and safety are all at risk, if we get it wrong.”

Pompeo called India a “rising US defense and security partner, in the Indo-Pacific and globally,” and a “key pillar” of United States President Donald Trump’s foreign policy. “India is also part of a group of like-minded nations that I’ve convened regularly to advance shared interests,” he said. “We do not just interact on a bilateral basis. We see each other for what we are great democracies, global powers and really good friends.”

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Over the past few weeks, Trump and his administration have supported India’s actions against Beijing. On July 17, the US president said he wanted to do everything possible to ensure peace for the people of India and China. Pompeo on July 8 had said that India has been a great partner of the US. He had added that China took “incredibly aggressive action” in the clashes, adding that India did its best to respond to the situation.

Pompeo on Wednesday also took note of Trump’s invitation to Modi to attend this year’s G-7 Summit in his country. The G-7 is a group of countries and organisations that the US considers natural partners because they share values like democracy, transparency and the rule of law.

“India has a chance to attract global supply chains away from China and reduce its reliance on Chinese companies in like telecommunications, medical supplies and others,” Pompeo added. “India is in this position because it has earned the trust of many nations around the world, including the United States.”

Pompeo asserted that adopting to a free markets economy is the best way to lift people out of poverty and that the private sector will be indispensable for overcoming the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic. “But as I said last year to achieve these worthy goals, India will need to encourage an environment that is more open to increased trade and investment,” he added.