US Congress passes $740 million defence bill that calls out Chinese aggression against India at LAC

The National Defense Authorisation Act included key components of Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi's resolution urging the Chinese government to end its military aggression against India

Press Trust of India December 16, 2020 18:48:43 IST
US Congress passes $740 million defence bill that calls out Chinese aggression against India at LAC

The US Congress building in Washington, DC. AP

Washington: The US Congress has officially passed the $740 billion defence policy bill, which among other things include calling out Chinese aggression against India along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The US House of Representatives and the Senate on Tuesday passed the National Defense Authorisation Act (NDAA), which included key components of Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi's resolution language urging the Chinese government to end its military aggression against India along the LAC.

China and India have been locked in a military stand-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh since May. Several rounds of talks between the two countries to resolve the standoff have not yielded any concrete outcome.

The House and Senate versions of the bill were reconciled by a bipartisan Congressional conference committee earlier this month.

The inclusion of this provision, which Krishnamoorthi led as an amendment when the bill passed the House, reflects the US government’s strong support for its allies and partners like India in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.

Krishnamoorthi’s measure, which passed each chamber with overwhelming bipartisan support, will become law if President Donald Trump signs it.

Trump has threatened to veto the bill as it lacks a repeal of legal protections for social media companies. However, the NDAA has been passed by Congress for the last 59 years.

“Violent aggression is seldom the answer, and this is especially true for the Line of Actual Control, which is the disputed border region that separates the People's Republic of China from India,” Krishnamoorthi said.

“By including my resolution language in the NDAA and signing that legislation into law, the United States government will send a clear message that China’s military provocations of India will not be tolerated,” he said.

“The United States is committed to standing with our allies and partners like India in resolving the border standoff using diplomatic means," Krishnamoorthi said.

As approved by the conference report, the powerful NDAA says that it is the sense of the Congress on the aggression of China along the border with India and its growing territorial claims.

The Senate agreed to include the provisions of the bill that was passed by the House in its version of the bill.

The House bill contained provisions that would express the sense of Congress on cross-border violence between China and India and the growing territorial claims of Beijing.

Expressing "significant concern" over the continued military aggression by China along the border with India, the NDAA says that China "should work with" India toward de-escalating the situation along the Line of Actual Control through existing diplomatic mechanisms and refrain from attempting to settle disputes through coercion or force.

Attempts by China to advance baseless territorial claims, including those in the South China Sea, the East China Sea, and with respect to Bhutan, are destabilising and inconsistent with international law, says the bill.

China is also engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea. China claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea. Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims.

Beijing has built up and militarised many of the islands and reefs it controls in the region. Both areas are stated to be rich in minerals, oil and other natural resources and are also vital to global trade.

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