As China grows in muscle and might, both the UK and the US are getting apprehensive of Beijing’s assertive foreign policy. After the US warned China over ties with its neighbors, now the UK has also sent a ‘crystal clear’ message to the communist nation.
MI5, the UK’s spy agency, revealed that a Chinese communist party (CCP) agent secretly infiltrated the British Parliament and meddled in British politics. A warning from MI5 claims that Christine Ching Kui Lee, a long-time UK-based lawyer, had “established links” for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) with incumbent and possible British MPs.
MI5 said anyone in contact with Li should “be mindful of her affiliation” and her “activity to advance the CCP agenda.” He said it was “a matter of serious concern” and called for Lee to be deported.
Meanwhile, the Chinese embassy in the UK rejected the MI5 claims and said: “China always adheres to the principle of non-interference in other country’s internal affairs. We have no need and never seek to ‘buy influence’ in any foreign parliament. We firmly oppose the trick of smearing and intimidation against the Chinese community in the UK.”
Tensions have been at an all-time high at the India-China border in the eastern Ladakh region for more than one and a half years now. A number of military talks at various levels have been held between the two countries, however, each of them has been unable to find a solution to the dispute.
Amid these constant tensions at the border, Washington warned Beijing that the “threats” posed by China to its neighboring countries were a matter of great concern. It added that the US will always “stand by its partner countries”. This statement came at a time when India and China held their 14th round of military-level talks.
The talks took place on Wednesday at the Chushul-Moldo meeting point located on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which is the de facto border between the countries.
“The two sides also agreed to consolidate on the previous outcomes and take effective efforts to maintain the security and stability on the ground in the Western Sector including during winter,” the statement read, as published by the Chinese Defense Ministry.
The sides also agreed to keep close contact and dialogue through military and diplomatic channels and to come up with solutions to other issues, which will satisfy both nations.
The officials stated that the next round of talks “should be held at the earliest.”
The previous round of talks took place in October 2021 and proved fruitless. The Indian defense ministry said that Chinese negotiators rejected its call to restore peace in the area of the LAC. Prior to that, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin described the situation at the border as stable and added that the sides keep in contact via military and diplomatic channels.
China’s Territorial Disputes
Besides India, China’s relations with Taiwan have also severely declined over the past years. The communist nation claims Taiwan as a part of China’s mainland, whereas, the island calls itself a sovereign country.
Tensions between Beijing and Taipei worsened further in the past few months when dozens of China’s warplanes breached Taiwan’s airspace. Five fighter aircraft belonging to China recently again entered Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), adding more tensions.
China’s growing military clout in the Indo-Pacific region has become a major concern for several countries, including India and the US, as they demand free and open movement in this region. The communist nation claims its rights on the disputed region of the South China Sea, which is also claimed by other countries such as Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam.
China has set up military bases and has constructed artificial islands in this area, which bypasses the claims made by these countries. Beijing also has an ongoing territorial dispute with Tokyo in the East China Sea over a group of uninhabited islands, which are known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan and the Diaoyu Islands in China.
The US has been offering support to its regional allies in this region. The country has been sending its warplanes to assert its territorial claims over the disputed area. The US also claims that it wants peace and stability to be maintained in the region.
It says that its efforts to safeguard the freedom of movement in the South China Sea are in accordance with international law and that it is also against resolving any disputes with the use of force. There have been various instances when tensions between China and the US were heightened after the latter’s statements with respect to China’s neighbors.
US Warning To China
Ahead of the 14th military-level talks between India and China, Jen Psaki, the spokeswoman for the White House, said that the US had been keeping a close eye on the issue.
In response to a question asked at a press briefing on January 11 regarding China’s “aggressive” stance at the border with India, Psaki said that “the US is closely watching the situation on the India-China border”. “We support a negotiated and peaceful solution to the border dispute”, she added.
“We have a clear position on how we view Beijing’s behavior in this region and around the world. We believe that this could destabilize the situation and we condemn the efforts of the People’s Republic of China to threaten its neighbors. Worried about it”, Psaki explained. “We will stand by our partners on this matter”.
There have been a number of attempts to resolve the dispute between India and China through military-level talks between the countries. The 13th round of talks was held on October 10, 2021, however, those were unfruitful.
After the talks were over, a number of “positive suggestions” proposed by the Indian military were disapproved by China, PTI reported quoting officials. They also added that no such suggestions or ideas were proposed by China and that is the reason that the two sides were unable to “move forward”.
On November 18, India and China held a virtual dialogue at a diplomatic level. It was during this dialogue that the two countries decided to conduct the 14th round of military-level talks so that the disengagement process can be properly completed in the eastern Ladakh region over which there is a dispute.
The India-China Border Dispute
The conflict between the militaries of India and China in the eastern Ladakh area began on May 5, 2020. More than a month later, on June 15, there was a clash between the soldiers of the two militaries in the Galwan Valley in which several soldiers from both sides lost their lives.
After the Galwan Valley skirmish, multiple rounds of talks were held between the representatives of both countries. The disengagement process commenced in February 2021, shortly after a meeting between the foreign ministers of India and China.
Finally, the two countries completed the full disengagement process from the north and south banks of Pangong Lake and the Gogra area, as reported by The Hindu.
At present, around 50 to 60 thousand troops from both countries are stationed at the sensitive sector of the LAC (Line of Actual Control). The 3,440-km disputed Himalayan border, which triggered the 1962 Sino-Indian war, continues to be a major source of tension between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.
- Written by Kashish Tandon/EurAsian Times Desk
- Contact the author at: [email protected]