By Amit Agnihotri
New Delhi: The United States Congress has now backed India‘s tough stance against China‘s aggression along the de factor border in eastern Ladakh.
Days after US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo slammed China for showing aggression in Ladakh and South China Sea, and backed India’s troop deployment along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to counter Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the US House of Representatives passed an unanimous amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act 2021 (NDAA).
The amendment is significant, as it opposes Chinese aggression against India and notes that the Asian giant has used the COVID-19 pandemic to try to seize territory belonging to India, while rubbing the western powers on the wrong side by making territorial claims in the South China Sea.
The amendment, which was moved by Congressman Steve Chabot and Indian-American legislator Ami Bera, slammed China over its aggression in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh, where a deadly brawl between the Indian and Chinese troops on June 15 had left 20 Indian soldiers dead and reportedly claimed the lives of over 40 PLA troops, though China has been mum on its casualty numbers.
The Indian and PLA troops are still facing each other in a confrontation, which has worried the global powers, though a mutually agreed disengagement is in progress. The US legislative amendment urged both India and China to de-escalate the LAC situation.
Besides the Ladakh incursions, the amendment slammed China for its expansionist and aggressive moves in and around territories like the South China Sea and the Senkaku Islands, which has infuriated Japan.
Significantly, the US ally Japan too recently criticised China for violating the LAC in eastern Ladakh.
A few days ago, the US rejected all the Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea, and has even deployed nuclear powered aircraft carriers — the USS Ronald Regan and the USS Nimitz — to counter the Asian dragon.
Only yesterday, the flagship USS Nimitz-led Carrier Strike Group of the US Navy, consisting of Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Princeton and Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers USS Sterett and USS Ralph Johnson, along with Indian Naval warships INS Rana, INS Sahyadri, INS Shivalik and INS Kamorta, carried out a cooperative deployment in the Indian Ocean and carried out a passage exercise close to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
India too has called out China, saying that the South China Sea is a global common, where legitimate commerce and navigation must be allowed, and in case of a territorial dispute, threats of use of force are a strict no-go.
The US legislative amendment also noted the position adopted by India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who said India never wanted to turn differences with other countries into disputes.
A similar legislation moved by Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, along with other lawmakers, is to be taken up by the US House of Representatives today. The amendment expects China to resolve the LAC conflict, as per the bilateral peace pacts it has with India and refrain from use of force.
The developments have come a day before Modi is scheduled to address the US-India Business Council session in which India’s Minister of External Affairs Dr S. Jaishankar and Mike Pompeo will also be present.
The developments have also come amidst intensifying war of words between the US and China, which is set to get shriller and could lead to a cold war between the two nations.
One reason why India is facing China’s aggression is that the Asian giant sees the South Asian country as the only one, which can question its dominance in the region. China also fears the growing US-India relations can stymie its superpower ambitions.