Bipartisan support for India in its military standoff with China in Ladakh has been growing among US lawmakers. Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republican-ruled US senate, kicked off floor debate on next year’s defense budget Monday by slamming China for “picking deadly fights” with India.
McConnell appealed for the chamber’s bipartisan support to pass the National Defense Authorization Act 2021with remarks highlighting recent threats from adversarial nationals China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. “China has resumed its submarine intrusions into Japanese contiguous zones and picked deadly fights with India at high altitude,” McConnell said.
In a floor speech on June 18, just days after the deadly slash in which 20 Indian soldiers had died, Leader McConnell had said the Chinese military had appeared to have “instigated the worst violent clash between China and India since those nations went to war way back in 1962.”
Also on Monday, another Republican senator, Marco Rubio, came out in India’s support. “Today I spoke to @SandhuTaranjitS to express our solidarity with the people of #India as they firmly confront unwarranted & lawless armed aggression by the Communist Party of #China.” He was referring to a conversation with Taranjit S Sandhu, the Indian ambassador to the United States.
“India has made it clear, they will not be bullied by Beijing.,” the senator added. He is a member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, a powerful congressional panel with oversight of the State Department and the country’s foreign policy.
The State Department, it must be noted, has also been clear it holds Chinese aggression responsible for the borer clashes, and denounced in a statement echoed later by the White House. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has referred to the clashes several times. “The PLA has escalated border tensions – we see it today in India, the world’s most popular – populous democracy,” he said on June 18. He had also conveyed his condolences on the death of the Indian soldiers.
President Trump had offered to mediate May end, but was turned down by both countries.
In a TV interview past Sunday, Tom Cotton, a Republican senator who is a close ally of President Donald Trump, denounced China’s aggression on the border with India to illustrate the growing threat the Asian giant poses to the United States and its allies and partners around the world.
“The Chinese Communist Party is certainly using the pandemic to try to assert claims and take very aggressive action against almost all of its neighbors,” Cotton said, adding, “high up in the Himalayas, China has essentially invaded India, an ally of ours. And they have killed 20 Indian soldiers.”
The senator went on to draw attention to a proposed law that “violates” China’s international commitment regarding Hong Kong — the new national security law — and its aggression against Taiwan and the rim nations of the South China Sea, Vietnam, Philippines and Malaysia.
“China is becoming more aggressive than ever. That’s why it’s so important that we support all of our allies and partners,” he added.
There has been bipartisan support for India in this conflict. The Democratic-led House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, Eliot Engel, had denounced Chinese aggression early June, before the June 15 clashes in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed. “I am extremely concerned by the ongoing Chinese aggression along the Line of Actual Control on the India-China border.,” Engel had said in a statement. “China is demonstrating once again that it is willing to bully its neighbors rather than resolve conflicts according to international law.”
“I am concerned by continued Chinese aggression along its border with India,” Ami Bera, the Indian-descent chair of the Asia subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, had written in a tweet.