US President Donald Trump is now avoiding taking a stand on the India-China conflict in contrast to his earlier critical remarks about Beijing or that of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
In a terse and enigmatic remark about possible US action with other allies or sending a message to Beijing over its aggressive action in Ladakh, he said: “I love the people of India, and I love the people of China, and I want to do everything possible to keep the peace for the people.”
That was the sum total of his comment on Thursday on the issue, as quoted by his spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany, who said that she had taken a reporter’s question about the issue to Trump.
She ended her response by saying, “Thank You” after conveying the quote as if to forestall further discussion.
As he often does on various issues, Trump appears to be vacillating on China’s confrontation with India and at variance with others in his administration.
Trump’s tepid response on the India-China standoff was in contrast to his recent strident comments about China’s role in the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, undermining human rights in Hong Kong, intellectual property theft and trade manipulation and his signing order stripping the Chinese territory’s special trade status.
It also appeared to backslide from a remark McEnany attributed to him earlier this month that Beijing’s confrontation with India showed its true nature.
She said on July 1: “Trump had said that China’s aggressive position along the India-China border is part of the broader pattern of Chinese aggression in other parts of the world. And these actions only confirm the true nature of the Communist Party of China (CPC).”
Before that on June 21, he had given a non-committal answer to a question about the clash along the Line of Actual Control in which troops from both sides were killed: “It’s a very tough situation. We’re talking to India. We’re talking to China. They’ve got a big problem there.
“We’ll try and help them out.”
In May as tensions were building up, Trump tweeted that he had offered to mediate the dispute between India and China, which both countries rejected.
Pompeo was forthright on Wednesday about China’s aggressive behaviour with India and other Asian countries.
“I think that the whole world is coalescing around the challenge that we face (from China) I am confident that democracies, the free nations of the world, will push back on these,” he said while replying to a question at a news conference about the Ladakh region situation.
Pompeo, who is on a mission to isolate China and forge a united front of Asian and European allies, week earlier had called China’s recent actions against India “incredibly aggressive” and said: “The Indians have done their best to respond.”