"China was newly assertive in its relations with India this year," Carolyn Bartholomew, Commissioner of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing. (Agencies)
Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, she said the Sino-Indian tensions flared in early 2013, underlining the simmering mutual distrust that continues to plague the ties, particularly regarding the contested border.
"Nevertheless, the potential for periodic low-level confrontations between border patrols to escalate likely will persist. Indian media have reported several additional albeit briefer incursions by Chinese troops since the April standoff," she said, recalling the recent spate of Chinese incursions.
"Furthermore, both China and India continue to boost their militaries' capabilities on the border, adding to mutual suspicion," Bartholomew said, adding that this has left both sides sensitive to each other's border activities and disposed toward worst-case perceptions of the other sides' intentions.
Bartholomew said Ely Ratner and Alexander Sullivan of the Center for a New American Security warn, "More intense strategic competition between India and China would reverberate throughout the continent, exacerbating tensions in Central Asia, the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia. Disruptions to the Asian engine of economic growth caused by these tensions could debilitate the global economy."
She said in its ongoing examination of China's foreign policy, the Commission assesses that China increasingly is asserting itself on the global stage to protect more actively Beijing's interests. This trend was reflected in recent statements by China's top leaders.
In late October, President Xi Jinping insisted that China should be more active in blueprinting diplomatic strategy and undertaking diplomatic work.
"The impact of China gradually taking on a more assertive global role will be significant. In particular, Beijing may become more willing to use its increasing political and economic clout to more openly impose a higher cost on countries whose actions and policies challenge China`s interests. This trend has significant implications for the United States, particularly if China's foreign policies undermine or challenge America's," she added.
"China was newly assertive in its relations with India this year," Carolyn Bartholomew, Commissioner of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing.