In a scathing attack, the United States on Friday (June 19) described the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as a “rogue actor” and slammed the country’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) for “escalating” the border tension with India.
The criticism by the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, came days after a clash between Chinese and Indian troops in eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, during which 20 Indian army personnel were martyred.
Pompeo further criticised the Chinese government saying that the CCP wants to undo all the progress that the free world has made through institutions like NATO, and adopt a new set of rules and norms that accommodate Beijing.
“The PLA has escalated border tensions with India, the world’s most populous democracy. It’s militarising the South China Sea and illegally claiming more territory there, threatening vital sea lanes,” Pompeo said, a day after he expressed deep condolences to India on the death of 20 soldiers in the violent clashes early in the week.
The American diplomat, in his virtual address on ‘Europe and the China Challenge’ during the 2020 Copenhagen Democracy Summit on Friday, further said that for many years, the West, in an era of hope, believed they could change the CCP and improve the lives of the Chinese people along the way.
“Along the way, the CCP took advantage of our goodwill while assuring us they wanted a cooperative relationship. As (former Chinese politician) Deng Xiaoping said ‘Hide your strength, bide your time.’ I’ve talked in other venues about why this happened. It’s a complicated story. It’s no one’s fault,” Pompeo said.
Over decades, European and American companies have invested in China with great optimism. The companies outsourced supply chains to places like Shenzhen, opened education institutions for PLA-affiliated students and welcomed Chinese state-backed investment in their countries, said the US secretary of state.
But the CCP decreed an end to freedom in Hong Kong, violating an UN-registered treaty and the rights of its citizens. This is one of the many international treaties the party has violated, Pompeo said.
“General Secretary Xi Jinping has green-lighted a brutal campaign of repression against Chinese Muslims, a human rights violation on a scale we haven’t seen since World War II. Now, the PLA has escalated border tensions with India,” he said.
The clash in Galwan Valley is the biggest confrontation between the militaries of the two nations after their 1967 clashes in Nathu La when India lost around 80 soldiers while the Chinese side suffered more than 300 fatalities.
The Chinese soldiers used stones, nail-studded sticks, iron rods and clubs in carrying out brutal attacks on Indian soldiers after they protested the erection of a surveillance post by China on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Galwan.
“The CCP isn’t just a rogue actor in its own neighbourhood. It lied about the coronavirus and let it spread to the rest of the world, while pressuring the WHO to assist its cover-up campaign. Hundreds of thousands of people have died, and the global economy has been decimated,” Pompeo said.
Even now, months into the pandemic, China has not provided access to live virus samples, facilities, or information about patients in December in Wuhan, he said. China is pushing disinformation and malicious cyber campaigns to undermine governments and to drive a wedge between the US and Europe, Pompeo alleged.
“It’s saddling developing nations with debt and dependency. It’s strong-arming nations to do business with Huawei, an arm of the CCP’s surveillance state. It’s flagrantly attacking European sovereignty by buying up ports and critical infrastructure from Piraeus to Valencia,” said the top US diplomat.
“We must take off the golden blinders of economic ties and see that the China challenge isn’t just at the gates; it’s in every capital. Every investment from a Chinese state-owned enterprise should be viewed with suspicion,” he said.
“Europe faces a China challenge, just as the United States does, and just as our South American, African, Middle Eastern, and Asian friends do. As I said earlier this week to my EU counterparts, I know there’s fear in Europe that the United States wants you to choose between us and China,” he said.
“It’s the Chinese Communist Party that’s forcing the choice. The party wants you to throw away the progress we in the free world have made, through NATO and other institutions – formal and informal – and adopt a new set of rules and norms that accommodate Beijing,” Pompeo said.
(With inputs from agencies)