Pompeo warns of China risks ahead of US-India talks

Mr Pompeo will be travelling shortly to New Delhi for annual talks. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON • US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called for closer ties with India as he warned of China's growing might on its doorstep, amid a flurry of diplomacy between the world's two largest democracies.

"They absolutely need the United States to be their ally and partner in this fight," Mr Pompeo said on Friday, about his four-way meetings earlier last week in Tokyo with his counterparts from India, Japan and Australia.

Mr Pompeo told radio host Larry O'Connor: "The world has awakened. The tide's begun to turn. And the United States under President Trump's leadership has now built out a coalition that will push back against the threat."

"The Indians are seeing 60,000 Chinese soldiers on their northern border," Mr Pompeo told Fox News late on Friday, in further signs that a deadly military stand-off between the world's two most populous countries is far from cooling down.

Tensions have soared between India and China since violent hand-to-hand fighting in the Himalayan region of Ladakh in June that left 20 Indian troops dead. China has acknowledged suffering casualties but has not revealed any figures.

Mr Pompeo said each of the three major Indo-Pacific democracies - India, Australia and Japan - which form the so-called Quad along with the US, is under threat from the Chinese Communist Party.

Following the Tokyo meeting, Mr Pompeo will travel to New Delhi with Defence Secretary Mark Esper for annual talks with their Indian counterparts. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun will travel to India this week to prepare the meeting, the State Department said.

Despite wide concerns about China, India has historically shied away from formal alliances with outside powers.

In another radio interview on Friday, Mr Pompeo also called on the Vatican to be "serious" in addressing religious persecution in China. His remarks come on the heels of a visit to Rome in which Pope Francis did not meet him, with the Vatican saying that the pontiff avoids such audiences with foreign dignitaries during campaign periods.

Vatican officials say they were taken aback by Mr Pompeo's public criticism of an opening to China led by Pope Francis.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 11, 2020, with the headline Pompeo warns of China risks ahead of US-India talks. Subscribe