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20th-Oct-2017

Warning for China as US hails India 'partnership'

By AFP, Washington


The United States vowed Wednesday to work with India in preference to China over the next century to promote a "free and open" Asia-Pacific region led by prosperous democracies.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivered his unexpectedly sharp message to Beijing on the same day President Xi Jinping opened the Communist Party congress.
His upbeat speech was designed to set the stage for a visit next week to China's main Asian rival India, and to lay out a vision for a 100-year "strategic partnership" between Washington and New Delhi.
But President Donald Trump's chief diplomat also took the opportunity to compare the United States and India-the world's "two greatest democracies" -- with China, which he said was undermining the "rules-based international order."
Coming on the day Xi opened a party congress designed to further secure his long-term control of what is already one of the most powerful Chinese presidencies in history, Tillerson's address will be seen as provocative.
After the speech, reporters asked a senior State Department official whether it had been intended as a warning or a rebuke to China. "It's a speech that was designed for many audiences," he said, smiling.
"The fact that he mentioned China is obviously built into the speech," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "But this is a speech, obviously, that we hope all countries in the Indo-Pacific region will take to heart."
Washington and Delhi have been building stronger ties for some time, but Tillerson made one of the clearest cases that the "shared values" underpinning the relationship make India and the United States ideal partners.
As such, the speech also amounted to a warning to great power rival China that Washington will build regional alliances to counter its ever-growing power, while promoting free trade and open sea lanes.