Two US Senators, Republican Bill Hagerty and Democrat Jeff Merkley, on Tuesday ramped up a month-old resolution reiterating the United States’ recognition of Arunachal Pradesh as an integral part of India.
The resolution reaffirms that Washington recognizes the McMahon Line, north of Arunachal Pradesh, as the international boundary between China and India, and pushes back against Beijing’s claims that Arunachal Pradesh is China’s territory, which they say is a part of the PRC’s increasingly aggressive and expansionist policies.
“At a time when China continues to pose grave and gathering threats to the Free and Open Indo-Pacific, it’s critical for the United States to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our strategic partners in the region—especially India,” said Senator Hagerty in a statement on Tuesday.
“This bipartisan resolution expresses the Senate’s support for unequivocally recogniSing the state of Arunachal Pradesh as an integral part of India, condemning China’s military aggression to change the status quo along the Line of Actual Control, and further enhancing the US-India strategic partnership and the Quad in support of the Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”
Senator Merkley said the resolution not only recognizes Arunachal Pradesh as part of India but also “commits the USto deepening support and assistance to the region, alongside like-minded international partners and donors.”
The Senators’ resolution also condemns additional China provocations, including its use of military force to change the status quo along the Line of Actual Control, construction of villages in contested areas, publication of maps with Mandarin-language names for cities and feature in Arunachal Pradesh, and expansion of PRC territorial claims in Bhutan.
The resolution commends New Delhi for taking steps to defend itself against aggression and security threats from China, including securing India’s telecommunications infrastructure; examining its procurement processes and supply chains; implementing investment screening standards; and expanding its cooperation with Taiwan in public health and other sectors.
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The resolution, and the sentiment behind it, reflects a sea change in ties between US and India from 30 years ago when Washington and its lawmakers largely ignored matters relating to India’s territorial integrity, going to the extent of accepting Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed issue.
Although first introduced in mid-February, the lawmakers dredged out the China-India resolution on Tuesday even as nearly forty Senator co-sponsored a separate bipartisan resolution urging a strong US government response to any Chinese efforts to clamp down on dissent in Hong Kong, including the use of sanctions and other tools.
The Washington establishment has embarked on a mission to draft New Delhi — which is leery of joining formal alliances — to its side in the growing confrontation with Russia and China. After Beijing shocked the US and western NATO powers last week by brokering a peace deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the Biden administration brought together the United Kingdom and Australia in a deal that will see Australia equipped with nuclear-powered attack submarines, an agreement that China said will lead down a “path of error and danger.”
India has been noticeably circumspect in reacting to both developments.