The US-China Commission (USCC) chastised China for utilizing pledges of economic assistance and investment to secure its strategic objectives in countries, noting that there is a growing recognition that trade and investment with Beijing are not just economic but also national security challenges. “Beijing has used the promise of economic assistance, development aid, and investment to help secure its strategic interests in these countries,” Commissioner Carolyn Bartholomew said in her opening statement at a hearing on “China’s Activities and Influence in South and Central Asia” on Thursday (Local time). However, China’s economic diplomacy is fraught with danger.” Bartholomew said, we will hear from witnesses, that China has diverse interests in South and Central Asia regions, including economic interests, by gaining access to natural resources and developing new export markets, and geopolitical interests, by aligning or attempting to align other countries with its vision of a Sino-centric international order.
The U.S. and Indian defense establishments maintain close engagements that help ensure security with other partners in the region, for example through information sharing and cooperation between our two militaries, he continued. Schriver added, “The United States, India, and other countries in South Asia face a growing military challenge as PLA soldiers encroach on China’s borders with Bhutan, Nepal, and India. At the same time, the PLA Navy is expanding its presence and improving its capabilities to deploy and conduct major operations in the Indian Ocean.”
Moreover, Commissioner Randall Schriver said that during the last hearing on China’s activities in Central Asia in 2015, we asked whether China would cooperate with the United States to stabilize Afghanistan and join coalition counterterror efforts. He said, “Needless to say, our hopes for Chinese cooperation in Afghanistan have not materialized. Today, China is actively working to shape the regional security architecture to its benefit through joint military exercises, multilateral organizations like the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and even the direct presence of armed forces in Tajikistan.”
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