China: India Must Pull Back its Troops Amid Border Standoff
BEIJING � China on Monday warned India not to push your luck by underestimating Beijing’s determination to safeguard what it considers sovereign Chinese territory, amid an ongoing standoff between the two neighbors over a contested region high in the Himalayas.
Defense ministry spokesman Col. Wu Qian reiterated China’s demand that Indian troops pull back from the Doklam Plateau, an area also claimed by Indian ally Bhutan where Chinese teams had been building a road toward India’s border.
China’s determination and resolve to safeguard national security and sovereignty is unshakable, Wu said at a news conference to mark the upcoming 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army.
Here is a wish to remind India, do not push your luck and cling to any fantasies, Wu said. The 90-year history of the PLA has proved but one thing: that our military means to secure our country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity has strengthened and our determination has never wavered. It is easier to shake a mountain than to shake the PLA.
India has called for both sides to withdraw forces and a negotiated settlement to the standoff that began last month after Chinese troops began working to extend southward the road from Yadong in Tibet.
While the sides have exercised restraint thus far, heated rhetoric in both Beijing and New Delhi has raised concern over a renewal of hostilities that resulted in a brief but bloody frontier war between the sides in 1962. The nuclear-armed neighbors share a 3,500-kilometer (2,174-mile) border, much of it contested, and China acts as a key ally and arms supplier for India’s archrival, Pakistan.
The crisis is expected to be discussed when Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval visits Beijing at the end of this week for a security forum under the BRICS group of large developing nations that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
STATE DEPARTMENT � President Trump said he intends to nominate John Bass as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan. The longtime diplomat has been the American ambassador to Turkey since 2014.
In announcing the nomination, a White House statement said over the past decade the ambassador has supported “efforts to mobilize allies and marshal resources to combat terrorism and instability in Iraq, Syria and Southwest Asia.” Bass has served at six U.S. missions overseas since becoming a diplomat in 1988.
He joins Alice Wells, a career Foreign Service Officer (FSO), who was quietly named the acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, late last month.
The two officials arrive at a pivotal time as the Trump administration deliberates its military and diplomatic strategy in Afghanistan, after nearly 17 years of war.
The administration’s decision on whether to send more American troops to the country is not expected for “weeks,” a Pentagon official told VOA Thursday.
Ambassador Wells’ appointment came with little fanfare at a time when there is increasing attention on the expected closure of Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP), which is part of the planned downsizing and restructuring of the State Department.
Critics said it prompted confusion about U.S. diplomacy in the region where nearly 10,000 American troops are deployed.
Wells assumed the duties on June 26, according to the State Department.
Ambassador Wells is ensuring that the department’s approach to Afghanistan and Pakistan is integrated within our broader approach to the region, a State Department spokesperson told VOA.
Source: Voice of America