Mitch McConnell Blames China for Starting Recent India Border Violence

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has blamed China for the deadly violence that erupted along its border with India this week, accusing Beijing of a broadly aggressive foreign policy and calling for bipartisan U.S. condemnation of the country.

McConnell said on the Senate floor Thursday that "for the sake of grabbing territory, the [People's Liberation Army] appears to have instigated the most violent clash between China and India since those nations went to war in 1962."

Tensions have been particularly high along the mountainous and disputed frontier for months. On Monday night, they boiled over into a brawl between Chinese and Indian soldiers in a disputed part of the Galwan Valley in the northern Indian state of Ladakh.

At least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in the confrontation. China has not yet acknowledged its own toll, but Indian sources have reportedly claimed at least 35 Chinese troops were casualties.

Both sides have now sent more troops to reinforce their positions along the Himalayan border as officials from both sides attempt to de-escalate the situation. Both Beijing and New Delhi, however, have warned that further aggression will not be tolerated.

"Needless to say, the rest of the world has watched with grave concern this violent exchange between two nuclear states," McConnell said Thursday. "We are encouraging de-escalation and hoping for peace."

"But the world could not have received a clearer reminder that the [People's Republic of China] is dead-set on brutalizing people within their own borders, challenging and remaking the international order anew in their image—to include literally redrawing world maps."

McConnell framed the Indian border clash as part of China's aggressive wider strategy, which has seen tensions rising in the South China Sea and around Taiwan. The international community has protested ongoing human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, as well as Beijing's response to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

"At sea, they have stepped up their menacing of Japan near the Senkaku Islands," McConnell said. "In the skies, Chinese jets have intruded into Taiwanese airspace four separate times in a matter of days."

McConnell also accused the Chinese Communist Party of using the COVID-19 pandemic "as a smokescreen" for continued human rights abuses in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

Beijing is planning to impose a new national security law on Hong Kong that will criminalize anti-government dissent. Pro-democracy activists in the semi-autonomous region have enjoyed bipartisan support in Washington, prompting anger in Beijing.

"More and more Hong Kongers find themselves facing an agonizing decision: Can they remain in the city they love, or must they flee elsewhere if they want their children to grow up free?" McConnell said. "Every nation that cares about democracy and stability has a stake in ensuring that Beijing's actions in Hong Kong carry consequences."

China, India, border, clash, violence, Mitch McConnell
An Indian army convoy drives towards Leh, on a highway bordering China, on June 19, 2020 in Gagangir, India. Yawar Nazir/Getty Images/Getty