(ANTIMEDIA) Washington, D.C. — In uncharacteristically straightforward language on Wednesday — and just as China’s week-long and much-hyped 19th National Party Congress kicked off — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made it clear that the U.S. seeks deeper cooperation with one of its major allies in the Asia-Pacific in response to China’s growing regional influence. From the Times of India:
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“Calling the United States and India ‘two bookends of stability on either side of the globe,’ the Trump administration on Wednesday bluntly proposed that Washington and New Delhi work together in the Indo-Pacific region to counter the disruptive force that China has become.
“In a stunning new dynamic unveiled by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Trump’s America ditched the pussy-footing and kid glove treatment of China that characterized the previous Obama and Bush administrations as they sought to woo New Delhi to counter Beijing’s growing assertiveness in the region and beyond.”
In his first primetime address to the nation at the end of August, President Trump stressed the need for the U.S. to further develop ties with India. Notably absent from his speech, however, was any mention of China, as Anti-Media reported at the time. In contrast, many of Tillerson’s comments Wednesday were aimed directly at the Asian superpower.
“The United States seeks constructive relations with China,” Tillerson said while speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C. think tank. “But we won’t shrink from China’s challenges to the rules-based order, or where China subverts the sovereignty of neighboring countries, and disadvantages the US and our friends.”
The secretary of state told those in attendance that the U.S. is the “reliable partner” India needs right now:
“In this period of uncertainty and angst, India needs a reliable partner on the world stage. I want to make clear: with our shared values and vision for global stability, peace and prosperity, the United States is that partner.”
Continuing, Tillerson said that like India, China is a rising force in the Asia-Pacific but that China’s clout had been gained “less responsibly” and that at times the country’s efforts have threatened the international order. The secretary of state also acknowledged that “the world’s center of gravity is shifting” from West to East.
“The United States and India, with our shared goals of peace, security, freedom of navigation, and a free and open architecture,” Tillerson said Wednesday, “must serve as the eastern and western beacons of the Indo-Pacific. As the port and starboard lights between which the region can reach its greatest and best potential.”
While relations between China and India appear to have somewhat stabilized lately, the two Asian powerhouses were locked in a tense military standoff in the disputed region of Doklam earlier this year for over two months. The standoff technically ended on August 28, though a Chinese troop presence remains in the area.