United States President Donald Trump’s national security adviser has said that China tried to take control of the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh by force and that the time has come to accept that dialogue or agreements would not persuade Beijing to change, PTI reported on Friday. India and China are engaged in a standoff since May when China amassed huge troops in Depsang, Gogra, Hot Springs, Galwan and Pangong Tso, but neither side has backed down.

Earlier this week, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said that China’s “territorial aggression” was apparent on the border with India, which it had attempted to seize by use of force.

“The time has come to accept that dialogue and agreements will not persuade or compel the People’s Republic of China to change,” O’Brien was quoted as saying by the news agency. “There’s nothing to be gained from looking the other way or turning the other cheek. We’ve been doing that for far too long.”

The White House official also accused China of making other countries indebted to it. “Beijing’s signature international development programme, One Belt One Road, involves impoverished companies taking on opaque and unsustainable Chinese loans to pay Chinese firms employing Chinese labourers to build their infrastructure,” he said.

O’Brien added that many such projects were “white elephants”. “And now these countries’ dependence on the Chinese debt leaves their sovereignty eroded and with no choice but to hue to the party’s line on UN [United Nations] votes or any other issue that the Chinese Communist Party considers a red line,” he said.

The top official also accused China of selling surveillance systems and tools of repression to “pariah regimes” like Venezuela.

Also read:

  1. China has deployed 60,000 soldiers on India’s northern border, says Mike Pompeo
  2. IAF demonstrated operational capability during Ladakh standoff, says Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria
  3. Committed to respecting territorial integrity, says India at Quad meet amid tensions with China
  4. PM Modi, Xi Jinping to meet at virtual BRICS summit next month for first time since border standoff

O’Brien said that United States must stand up to the Chinese and protect the American people. “We must promote American prosperity, practice peace through strength and advance American influence in the world,” he added.

He also said that Trump had been working to restrict China-controlled telecommunications companies like Huawei and ZTE. “President Trump has taken decisive action to meet these objectives,” O’Brien said. “He is working to prevent companies that answer to the CCP’s intelligence and security apparatus.”

The bilateral relations between US and China have become increasingly strained over the recent months. The US has repeatedly blamed China for the spread of the coronavirus and criticised the country over the security laws it introduced in Hong Kong in May.

India-China tensions

Military heads of both India and China have engaged in several rounds of talks over the last three months after 20 Indian and unknown number of Chinese soldiers were killed in violent clashes in Galwan Valley in June. But these talks have so far failed to break the impasse. The seventh round of Corps Commander talks to work out measures for disengagement and de-escalation is scheduled for October 12.

On September 22, both the countries had issued a joint statement about the sixth round of Corps Commander-level talks and said they resolved to stop sending more troops to the frontline. The statement added that both sides will refrain from unilaterally changing situation on the Line of Actual Control.

On September 10, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit. The two ministers agreed on a five-point plan to defuse tensions between the countries and said the current situation in the border areas of Ladakh was “not in the interest of either side”.

On September 7, China had accused India of “outrageously firing warning shots” in a new confrontation on the southern bank of Pangong Tso lake, describing it as “a serious military provocation”. India had denied this, saying that Chinese troops had attempted to close in on Indian forward positions along the Line of Actual Control and had “fired a few rounds in the air”. This was the first confirmed use of firearms on the Line of Actual Control by troops in more than four decades.