United States wants stronger India economic, defense ties given China's rise: Tillerson

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson rebuked China on Wednesday for subverting the global order, undermining the sovereignty of its neighbors and for being an irresponsible worldwide actor prone to predatory economic policies.

Speaking less than a month before Trump is due to make his first state visit to China, Tillerson said the USA had begun to discuss creating alternatives to Chinese infrastructure financing in Asia.

Tillerson made the remark in a speech at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.

Tillerson also took the opportunity to compare China with its giant neighbour and criticised Beijing for its "provocative actions" in the South China Sea.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signaled the Trump administration's growing impatience with China on issues from North Korea to trade, saying now's the time to go public with concerns that the USA has raised privately with the country's leaders for months.

His first India policy speech after becoming the top American diplomat early this year, Tillerson's remarks comes ahead of President Donald Trump Asia visit which will take him to Japan, S Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. India has also placed a large defence order with the U.S. worth billions of dollars.

"For many decades the United States has supported China's rise", said the official.

"In this period of uncertainty and angst, India needs a reliable partner on the world stage", Tillerson said, days before he departs for South Asia.

Both India and China had benefited from that order, but Tillerson said India had done so while respecting rules and norms, while China had "at times" undermined them. The spokesman confirmed USA eagerness to strengthen ties with India, saying, "India is looking for a partner - America is that partner". He said China was offering financing that saddles countries with enormous debt and triggers for repayment that lead to default. He pointed out that trade and business is growing and value of bilateral trade between the two countries has reached a massive $115 billion. He added that he "couldn't agree more" with comments by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis that the world's two greatest democracies should have the two greatest militaries. He called on India to fully embrace the "potential as a leading player in the global security arena", adding that the United States expects Pakistan to take "decisive action against terrorist groups" based within its borders.

Ahead of Tillerson's trip to South Asia, he said the US and India will convene "a new dialogue on terrorism designations". He said the USA will turn to its partners to bring more stability to Afghanistan, where the US has had troops for almost 16 years in what has become America's longest war. "The scourge of terrorism and the disorder sown by cyberattacks threaten peace everywhere".

  • Rogelio Becker