Lines in the sand are being drawn. The United States and India have recently penned an agreement of military cooperation in order to counter threats from the Chinese government. They have agreed to share certain satellite data used to control missiles and drones.
“Big things are happening as our democracies align to better protect the citizens of our two countries and indeed, of the free world,” said Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State for the United States, who spent the last few days touring the greater Indo-Pacific region.
This agreement between the two nations has occurred largely as a result of recent tensions between India and China along their disputed border in the Himalayan mountain range. This region represents the world’s largest undefined border, and for several years the Chinese military has followed a doctrine of aggressive expansion and militarization.
In June of this year, tensions began to boil over between India and China as their soldiers in the region engaged in violent clashes. Twenty Indian troops were killed in hand to hand combat with Chinese soldiers, and recently a “lost” Chinese soldier has been captured by the Indian military.
“The CCP is no friend to democracy, the rule of law, transparency, nor to freedom of navigation — the foundation of a free and open and prosperous Indo-Pacific,” Pompeo said.
In his trip to the region. Pompeo also will have a chance to visit Sri Lanka and the Maldives. These are two crucial areas of strategic importance to ocean navigation and trade. China has sought to control these nations through debt.
Using infrastructure projects as a lure, the Chinese government has manipulated these countries into absurd amounts debt in order to gain de facto control over these regions; something that the Chinese government is known for in many countries around the world, particularly on the continent of Africa, under the guise of their “belt and road initiative.”
The imminent arrival of Secretary Pompeo has already been denounced by local Chinese embassies in Sri Lanka and the Maldives. In part, this is due to the announcement by Pompeo that the US intends to open its own embassies in these regions in order to provide a counterbalance to China.
“We see from bad deals, violations of sovereignty and lawlessness on land and sea that the Chinese Communist Party is a predator, and the United States comes in a different way, we come as a friend, and as a partner,” Pompeo stated.
These new tension points between the US and China join a cascade of others. China’s aggressive military expansion of the south China sea, in order to control lucrative trade and natural resources, has been an ongoing point of tension since the early 2010’s.
China has created a series of new militarized islands on top of what was once shallow reefs, and aggressively claimed the entire region as its sovereign territory; despite the international complaints of the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia, all of which are geographically closer to the waters than China.
Combine this tension with US arm sales to Taiwan, and the dispute between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands, and it’s easy to surmise that lines in the sand are being drawn encapsulating the aggressive Chinese government. Tensions may be at a breaking point.