“Never Considered India-China Were On Verge Of War”: US Secretary Of Defence

Sunday, March 21, 2021

The US at no point believed that India and China were on the verge of a war, visiting US Secretary of Secretary of Defence General Lloyd Austin said here today referring to the months-long face-off that the Indian and Chinese armies were engaged in last year.

“We have never considered India and China were on the verge of a war,” Mr Austin said at a press conference in New Delhi. He was responding to a query on whether there was ever a time in the past year when the US believed that war between India and China was imminent.

Mr Austin is in India as part of a three-nation tour, the first since the Joe Biden administration took charge earlier this year. He met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on Friday and met Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today.

For the better part of last year, the Indian and Chinese armies had been engaged in a violent standoff along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh with some 20 Indian soldiers and at least five on the Chinese side dying in the skirmish.

The incident marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades, with both sides hoarding their troops along the LAC for months together.

The two sides later agreed to “completely disengage” from the flashpoint and ensure a phased and stepwise de-escalation in the India-China border areas.

China’s aggression at the border in Ladakh is believed to be triggered by India building new roads and other infrastructure in the region. Given the build-up of infrastructure on the Chinese side, including in areas such Galwan, where they have built up roads and broadened the valley, there is a worry that China will be able to surge troops into areas that they have now vacated.