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US reviewing global force posture to counter Chinese threat to countries like India: Pompeo

PTI, Jun 26, 2020, 2:48 PM IST

Washington DC: The US is reviewing its global deployment of forces to ensure that it is “postured appropriately” to counter the growing Chinese military threat to countries like India, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said.

The top US diplomat said this in response to a question during the virtual Brussels Forum 2020 of the German Marshall Fund on Thursday.

“We’re going to make sure we’re postured appropriately to counter the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). We think that the challenge of our times, and we’re going to make sure we have resources in place to do that,” Pompeo said.

The force posture review is being done at the direction of President Donald Trump, as part of which the US is reducing the number of its troops in Germany from about 52,000 to 25,000, he said.

Pompeo said that the force posture would be dictated by ground realities.

“In certain places, there will be fewer American resources. There will be other places – I just talked about the threat from the Chinese Communist Party, so now threats to India, threats to Vietnam, threats to Malaysia, Indonesia, South China Sea challenges, the Philippines,” he said.

China has been fast expanding military and economic influence in the strategic Indo-Pacific region, triggering concern in various countries of the region and beyond.

China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea. Beijing has built up and militarised many of the islands and reefs it controls in the region. Both maritime areas are stated to be rich in minerals, oil and other natural resources and are vital to global trade.

While asserting that there can be no compromise between freedom and authoritarianism, Pompeo also dismissed the argument that one must calm tensions and simply accept an increasingly belligerent Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

“My message today is this: We have to work together to continue the transatlantic awakening to the China challenge in the interest of preserving our free societies, our prosperity, and our future. It won’t be easy,” Pompeo said in response to another question at the Brussels Forum 2020.

“It’s tempting for many, particularly in our business communities, who make money in China to say we must calm tensions and simply accept an increasingly belligerent CCP. That’s nonsense. I don’t accept that argument,” Pompeo said.

“There is no compromise between freedom and authoritarianism. I don’t want the future to be shaped by the CCP, and I’d wager no one on this call wants that either,” he said.

At the conference, Pompeo announced that the US has accepted the proposal to create a US-EU Dialogue on China. Earlier in his remarks, Pompeo said China’s PLA was indulging in provocative military actions.

“They include its continued aggression in the South China Sea, deadly border confrontations in India, an opaque nuclear programme, and threats against peaceful neighbours,” he said.

Pompeo was referring to the ongoing military standoff in eastern Ladakh where the PLA killed 20 Indian soldiers on June 15 during a violent face-off. The CCP has broken multiple international commitments, including those to the World Health Organisation, World Trade Organisation, the United Nations, and to the people of Hong Kong, he said.

He also referred to the CCP’s predatory economic practices, such as trying to force nations to do business with telecom giant Huawei, which he said was an arm of the Chinese Communist Party’s surveillance state.

The Chinese Communist Party is also in violations of European sovereignty, including its browbeating of companies like the HSBC.

“The United States is not forcing Europe to choose between the free world or China’s authoritarian vision. China is making that choice between freedom and democracy,” he said.

Acknowledging that the US was slow to recognise the reality of the rising authoritarian regime and the implications it had on the free society, he said Europe too was slow.

“But the CCP’s coverup of the coronavirus, an outbreak that began in Wuhan, China – which has now killed tens of thousands of our people, and hundreds of thousands of people across the world – I think it’s accelerated everyone’s awakening,” he said.

“Europeans, like Americans, are starting to find their voice,” he said.

The G7 condemned China’s national security law targeting Hong Kong, he said. “Clearly, there is a transatlantic awakening to the truth of what’s happening,” he said.

Certainly, the US and many of the free-world friends have differences on the subject of multilateralism, he said, adding that “we can all agree that these institutions should be rooted in democratic values, hew to their missions, and reflect the interests of all member states.”

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