China slams US, says dispute with India bilateral issue

China hits out at US, says its boundary dispute with India bilateral matter

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper after paying tribute at National War Memorial, in New Delhi. Credit: PTI

A day after two members of President Donald Trump’s cabinet assured New Delhi of all support from the United States to deal with any security threat, China stated that its boundary dispute with India was a bilateral matter with no scope for any third party to intervene.

Beijing alleged that the US was trying to stoke geopolitical competition and stir up competition among different groups and blocs with its “Indo-Pacific strategy”.

India and the US on Tuesday held the third annual 2+2 dialogue, with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh hosting the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence Mark Esper for the talks in New Delhi. China’s “reckless aggression” along its disputed boundary with India in eastern Ladakh as well as its belligerence in the Taiwan Strait, South China Sea and East China Sea was on the agenda.

Read | Stop sowing discord between China, regional countries: Beijing on Pompeo’s visit to India

Pompeo and Esper conveyed to Jaishankar and Singh that the US would always stand with India to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the wake of the challenges posed by China. The US Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defence also visited the national war memorial in New Delhi and paid homage to the fallen soldiers of India, including the 20, who were killed in the violent face-off with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on June 15.

“The boundary question is a bilateral matter between China and India. The two sides have been discussing disengagement and de-escalation in the border areas through diplomatic and military channels. China and India have the wisdom and ability to handle their differences properly,” the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in New Delhi said in a statement issued early on Wednesday. “There's no space for a third party to intervene.”

Beijing alleged that Pompeo had repeated “old lies” about China during his and Esper’s visit to New Delhi and thus violated the norms of international relations and basic principles of diplomacy, exposing the “Cold War mentality” and the “ideological bias” of the US.

India and the US also signed the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) on the side-line of the 2+2 dialogue on Tuesday. The agreement, which will institutionalize sharing of geospatial information, was the last in a series of “foundational pacts” India and the US inked since 2016 to step up bilateral defence cooperation. The signing of the agreement formally elevated the defence cooperation between India and the US to a new level.

Read | India, US sign Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement

New Delhi also recently invited Royal Australian Navy to take part in the Malabar 2020 exercise, which was hitherto a trilateral annual drill involving the navies of India, Japan and the US. New Delhi’s move, which was endorsed by Tokyo and Washington D.C., was apparently intended to add military heft to Quad – a coalition relaunched by India, US, Japan and the US to contain China in Indo-Pacific.

“The Indo-Pacific strategy proposed by the US is to stir up confrontation among different groups and blocs and to stoke geopolitical competition, in a bid to maintain the dominance of the US, organize closed and exclusive ideological cliques,” a spokesperson of the embassy of the communist country in New Delhi said. “The difficulties and challenges facing the world could only be coped with when all people join hands and pull together. Peaceful development and win-win cooperation are the only right path forward.”

Read | A contested future: India, China and the Indo-Pacific

What also irked Beijing is Pompeo’s comment on Tuesday that the leaders and citizens of India and the US could now see with increasing clarity that the Chinese Communist Party was “no friend to democracy, the rule of law, transparency nor the freedom of navigation, the foundation of a free and open and prosperous Indo-Pacific.”

“The leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is a choice of history and the people,” the embassy of the communist party said in his statement on Wednesday.