US Lawmakers Urge China To Step Back from Ladakh

Soldiers patrolling an area in the mountainous Ladakh Union Territory. KO File Photo, Abid Bhat

Washington: Voicing concern over the recent Chinese military aggression against India, a bipartisan group of nine influential Congressmen have introduced a resolution in the US House of Representatives, urging Beijing that it should work towards de-escalating the situation at the border through existing diplomatic mechanisms and not by force.

The troops of India and China are locked in a standoff in several areas along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh since May 5. The situation deteriorated last month following the Galwan Valley clashes that left 20 Indian Army personnel dead.

Led by Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, other co-sponsors of the Congressional resolution are Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna and lawmakers Frank Pallone, Tom Suozzi, Ted Yoho, George Holding, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Haley Stevens and Steve Chabot.

In the months leading up to June 15, along the Line of Actual Control, the Chinese military reportedly amassed 5,000 soldiers; and is trying to redraw long-standing settled boundaries through the use of force and aggression, the Congressional resolution says.

Noting that India and China have reached an agreement to de-escalate and disengage along the Line of Actual Control, the resolution says that on June 15, at least 20 Indian soldiers and an unconfirmed number of Chinese soldiers were killed in skirmishes following a weeks-long standoff in Eastern Ladakh, which is the de facto border between the two countries.

"The Government of the People's Republic of China should work toward de-escalating the situation along the Line of Actual Control with India through existing diplomatic mechanisms and not through force," the Congressional resolution said.

It is the sense of the Congress that there is significant concern about the continued military aggression by China along its border with India and in other parts of the world, including with Bhutan, in the South China Sea, and with the Senkaku Islands, as their aggressive posture toward Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The resolution comes days after the House of Representatives Caucus on India and Indian-Americans in a letter to India''s Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, said that over the last few months, the Chinese authorities have been acting with impunity and have attempted to transgress on the LAC, which resulted in diplomatic discussions to implement a process for de-escalation along the LAC on July 6.

It was led by Congressmen Holding and Brad Sherman and signed by seven other lawmakers.

"It is my hope that they scale back on their excessive weaponry and infrastructure at the Line of Actual Control and uphold both their longstanding and new founded agreements with India," said the lawmakers who offered their condolences to the families of the fallen soldiers.

"We are disappointed that China has been acting in contradiction to their agreements with India, in their attempt to change the status quo and challenge Indian troops at the border," the letter said.

Last week, Senator Bob Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said US-India partnership, based on their shared commitment to democracy, is vital to uphold international law, international norms and the institutions that can peacefully and diplomatically resolve disputes and aggression.

"As India and China work to disengage along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), I remain deeply concerned by China's aggressive behaviour in territorial disputes," Menendez said.

"From the 2017 Doklam standoff to the recent violence along the borders in Sikkim and Ladakh, to China''s new claims to Bhutanese territory, Beijing has all too often sought to redraw the map of Asia without regard for its neighbours," he said.

Top Republican Senator Marco Rubio also recently called on India's Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu to express his solidarity with the people of India as they firmly confront unwarranted and lawless armed aggression by the Communist Party of China.

"India has made it clear, they will not be bullied by Beijing," he said.

Senator Tom Cotton too slammed China of its aggression against India. "China has resumed its submarine intrusions in the Japanese contiguous zones and picked deadly fights with India at high altitude," he said.

"Just go around the horn. You started in India, where, high up in the Himalayas, China has essentially invaded India, an ally of ours. And they have killed 20 Indian soldiers," Tom Cotton told Fox News in a recent interview.

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