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Trump may not back India against China in case of conflict: John Bolton

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Former United States National Security Adviser John Bolton has said if the Sino-India border tensions escalate, there is no guarantee that US President Donald Trump will back India against China.

"China has been behaving in a belligerent fashion all around its periphery, certainly in the East and South China Sea, and its relations with Japan, India as well as others have declined," Bolton said in an exclusive conversation with WION, India's first international news channel.

"I think this is China's effort to assert itself through not just political and military means but also through the Belt and Road initiative and others to gain increased sway over countries that have become economically dependent on it," Bolton told Palki Sharma, WION's Executive Editor, and added:

"Sri Lanka has been subject to this death diplomacy and Pakistan and many countries in Central Asia. I think China has a grand strategy and it's pursuing it, the United States has been asleep at the switch and so have many other countries. It is time to wake up and talk more among ourselves. For example, trilateral been a big advocate of greater tri-lateral cooperation between India, Japan, and the United States and I think that makes a lot of sense."

The former US NSA told Palki Sharma, WION's Executive Editor, "I don't know which way he would go and I don't think he knows either. I think he sees the geostrategic relationship with China for example exclusively through the prism of trade. And trade is important because China has stolen intellectual property from the United States and other countries, engaged in forceful technology transfers for decades and it forms a major part of their economic success and therefore military power. And that's really how far it goes."

In response to another question Bolton said if Trump is elected in November he won't be "criticizing Beijing for putting Uyghurs in concentration camps or repressing Hong Kong. He will be back to the big China trade deal. So, if things were to develop between India and China in a more critical fashion, I'm not sure where he would come down."

Asked if he believes that if things were to escalate between India and China, there is no guarantee that Trump will back India against China, Bolton said: "That is correct".

Bolton also said he did not think Trump knew anything about the history of these clashes over the decades between India and China.

Palki Sahrma asked: The US president has repeatedly offered to mediate in Kashmir and he has been told it is a bilateral issue. Why does he keep repeating these offers?

In response, John Bolton said: "You know, I can remember several times where I have explained India's longstanding position on Kashmir and it just doesn't sink in. There is no explanation for it. We tell him India thinks it's a bilateral issue and it has to be resolved by negotiation with Pakistan. Donald Trump thinks everything is a deal and who better to mediate it than him and you are going to hear it again and if he wins, you are going to hear it for the next four years."

Trump has no idea India has a border with China

Tellingly, President Donald Trump does not know that India and China share a border, according to the book 'A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America.'

The book, written by Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, claims that Donald Trump made his knowledge of Geography public when he was discussing matters with none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"It's not as though you have China right on your border..." the book quotes Donald Trump as saying during a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Modi. The US delegation seemed to have been a bit embarrassed. Then US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had to quickly inform Trump that India and China indeed, share a border. Tillerson did this right in the middle of the meeting and had to do it in a hushed tone so that only Trump could hear that.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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