By Arul Louis
New York, Dec 16 (IANS) The US Congress has expressed concern over China’s “aggression” along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India and declared as “baseless” the territorial claims by Beijing in the Himalayas.
The defence budget bill, passed by both chambers of Congress, asked China to stop using force to settle the dispute along the LAC and instead use diplomacy.
The section of the bill titled, “Sense of Congress on the Aggression of the Government of China Along the Border with India and its Growing Territorial Claims”, was introduced by Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democratic Party member of the House of Representatives.
The bill, with a $740 billion allocation for defence, now goes to President Donald Trump who has threatened to veto the budget bill over unconnected matters and because it was not hard enough on China.
Krishnamoorthi said in a statement on Tuesday: “By including my resolution language in the NDAA (National Defence Appropriation Act) and signing that legislation into law, the United States government will send a clear message that China’s military provocations of India will not be tolerated.”
“The United States is committed to standing with our allies and partners like India in resolving the border standoff using diplomatic means.
“Violent aggression is seldom the answer, and this is especially true for the Line of Actual Control, which is the disputed border region that separates the People’s Republic of China from India,” he said.
The mention of China’s aggression along the LAC and expression of support for India is important as the US leadership is transitioning from Trump, a staunch supporter of India who has taken a strong against China, to the Democratic President-elect Joe Biden.
The provisions in the bill on China’s aggression received the support of members of both houses.
The bill said: “It is the sense of Congress that continued military aggression by the government of China along the border with India is a significant concern.”
It said that China’s government should work with India “toward de-escalating the situation along the Line of Actual Control through existing diplomatic mechanisms and refrain from attempting to settle disputes through coercion or force”.
Viewing Beijing’s aggressive actions from the Himalayas to the Indo-Pacific, it denounced as “destabilising and inconsistent with international law” the “attempts by the government of China to advance baseless territorial claims, including those in the South China Sea, the East China Sea, and with respect to Bhutan”.
The budgets as well as other legislation passed by Congress usually contain issues that are not directly connected to them in order to make a point or to force the government to take other action.
Trump has threatened to veto the bill primarily because it calls for renaming military bases named for leaders of the Confederacy — the states that wanted to preserve slavery and tried to break away from the US during the mid-19th century Civil War.
He also asserted that the bill did not adequately act on China, tweeting, “THE BIGGEST WINNER OF OUR NEW DEFENSE BILL IS CHINA!. I WILL VETO!”
The bill was passed with sufficient majorities in the two chambers to over-ride a veto and should he veto it, the Congress can pass it again making it the law.
The bill calls for wide-ranging actions against China including on its spying, money laundering and recruitment of scientists, and requires assessing the defence capabilities of Beijing and competition in space.
It called for action to “deter industrial espionage and large-scale cyber theft of intellectual property and personal information” by China and requires the President to report on what the government is doing about it.
It wants the president to “demonstrate the credibility of United States resolve to defend its interests in cyberspace”.
(Arul Louis can be reached at email@example.com)
By Arul Louis