The United States expressed “significant concern” with Chinese aggression along the border with India in a defence policy law passed by the Senate on Friday, completing a congressional override of President Donald Trump’s veto of the legislation.
“Continued military aggression by the government of China along the border with India is a significant concern,” says the $740 billion National Defence Authorisation Act 2021 (NDAA).
It calls upon Beijing to resolve all disputes using existing diplomatic mechanisms.
The legislation became law after the Republican-controlled Senate voted 81-13 to pass it, with way more than the two-third votes required to override a presidential veto. The Democratic-led House of Representatives had passed the override last week with a similarly overwhelming support – 322 to 87.
Trump had vetoed the legislation passed earlier by both chambers, but his reasons had nothing to do with the section on Chinese aggression on the border with India.
He had demanded that it should repeal liability protection for social media platforms, drop sections renaming military facilities named after confederate military figures, and thinning US military deployments in certain areas.
It was the first congressional override of presidential veto for Trump, whose term ends on January 20, when President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th US president.
The NDAA conveys bicameral and bipartisan support for India in its border standoff with China. Though it is neither a demand nor a threat enforceable with consequences, it is a significant show of support for India.
In Section 1206 titled “Sense of Congress on the aggression of the government of China along the border with India and growing territorial claims” the law says, “Continued military aggression by the government of China along the border with India is a significant concern.”
The “government of China should work with the government of India towards de-escalating the situation along the Line of Actual Control through existing diplomatic mechanisms and refrain from attempting to settle disputes through coercion or force”, it adds, and goes on to point to China’s other aggressive actions in the region.
It says US congress believes that “attempts by the government of China to advance baseless territorial claims, including those in the South China Sea, the East China Sea, and with respect to Bhutan, are destabilising and inconsistent with international law”.
Raja Krishnamoorthi, the Democratic lawmaker who proposed this language in the law, said after its passage, “Through today’s New Year’s Day vote in the Senate, Congress has made the National Defence Authorisation Act into law, including elements of my resolution calling on China to end its military aggression towards India and others in the broader Indo-Pacific region.”
He added, “The Chinese military’s violent aggression along the Line of Actual Control with India and elsewhere is unacceptable, and the passage into law of this legislation sends a clear message of support and solidarity to India and our other partners across the world as we enter the New Year.”
The bicameral and bipartisan snub for Trump came amid his efforts to overturn his defeat to Biden in the presidential election.
Having failed to convince courts and state legislatures with claims of election wrongdoings, he is trying to get congress to overturn it when it meets on Wednesday to certify Biden’s victory, the final stage in the presidential election.