Tillerson criticizes China in speech calling for stronger ties with India

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday hit China over what he deemed as its efforts to subvert and undermine global order, while outlining a broad commitment to increasing cooperation with India.

Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a foreign policy think tank, Tillerson said that the Trump administration was “determined to dramatically deepen” cooperation with India, which he cast as a stabilizing influence in Asia.

China, on the other hand, poses a threat to stability in the region and the greater world order, he said.


“China, while rising alongside India, has done so less responsibly, at times undermining the international, rules-based order even as countries like India operate within a framework that protects other nations’ sovereignty,” Tillerson said.

“The United States seeks constructive relations with China, but we will not shrink from China’s challenges to the rules-based order and where China subverts the sovereignty of neighboring countries and disadvantages the U.S. and our friends,” he said.

Tillerson’s comments came days before he is due to make a visit to India. They also coincided with the China National Congress, a weeklong gathering of Chinese Communist Party officials taking place this week.

The secretary of State’s tone on China contrasted sharply with President Trump’s warmer attitude toward Beijing. While Trump ripped China on the campaign trail, he has generally taken a softer approach toward the country and has talked up his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Cooperation with China has been a cornerstone of Trump’s efforts to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programs, because Beijing is Pyongyang’s only major ally and largest trade partner.

Tillerson also reaffirmed that Pakistan — India’s longtime foe — remained a key U.S. partner in the region. But he was more stern in his remarks, emphasizing that Islamabad must act swiftly to crack down on terrorist groups operating in the country.

“We expect Pakistan to take decisive action against terrorist groups based within their own borders that threaten their own people and the broader region,” he said. “In doing so, Pakistan furthers stability and peace for itself and its neighbors, and improves its own international standing.” 

Tags Center for Strategic and International Studies China India Pakistan Rex Tillerson State Department
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