Warning for China as United States hails India 'partnership'

21 October, 2017, 00:49 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • File pic of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said the US wants to deepen co-operation with India in the face of growing Chinese influence in Asia.

A State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert told a briefing in Washington the visit is part of Secretary Tillerson's first visit to Asia. He visited China earlier this month and is likely to accompany President Donald Trump on an early November trip through Asia, including a stop in Beijing. That includes increasing pressure on India's rival, Pakistan, to stop supporting terrorist groups that the US says continue to foment conflict.

The ministry was referring to a Tillerson speech, made at a Washington think tank, during which he bluntly talked about "China's challenges to the rules-based (world) order" and in a none-too-veiled reference to Pakistan, said that "states that use terror as an instrument of policy will only see their global reputation and standing diminish".

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China's President Xi Jinping, who is expected to consolidate his hold on power at the meeting, used the occasion to declare that China should "take center stage in the world", and that its brand of socialism offers "a new choice for other countries".

Ergo, India on Friday made it a point to refer to the USA and India's "shared commitment to a rule-based worldwide order". But his harshest words were for China, the Asian economic behemoth and the nearest rival to India's huge population and the United States' still world-leading economy. He called for India's archrival Pakistan "to take decisive action against terrorist groups based within their own borders that threaten its own people and the broader region".

The top US diplomat made clear that the comments delivered in Wednesday's speech - where he also criticized Chinese financing that he said leaves developing countries saddled with debt - weren't off-the-cuff. "We are looking forward to the "2 plus 2" inaugural dialogue with PM Modi and President Trump", he had said, adding the United States and India should work together to maintain "peace and stability" in the Indo-Pacific region.

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That pressure is part of a delicate balance that Tillerson must maintain as the USA seeks China's help in cutting off North Korea's economy.

China, he said, uses funding mechanisms with countries that "result in saddling them with enormous levels of debt". "But we will not shrink from China's challenges to the rules-based order, and where China subverts the sovereignty of neighboring countries, and disadvantages the USA and our friends". "India is a partner for peace in Afghanistan, and we welcome its assistance efforts", he said.

He said India, "this very significant and important democracy, pins one side of that map; Japan, another very important and strong democracy that we have very strong security relationships with, pinning this side of the map".

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