Donald Trump may not back India in case of conflict with China: Former US NSA John Bolton

Donald Trump may not back India in case of conflict with China: Former US NSA John Bolton

New Delhi: Former United States national security advisor John Bolton has said there is no guarantee that Trump would back India if the situation between Beijing and New Delhi escalates.

“I’m not sure how much he understands the significance of the border clash. I don’t think he knows anything about the history of these clashes over the decades between India and China. He may have been briefed on it, but history doesn’t really stick with him,” Bolton said, in an exclusive conversation with WION, India’s first international news channel.

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.”

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“I don’t know what Trump will do after the November elections once the guard rail is removed. He’ll be back. He won’t be criticising 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,” he added.

“Let me make sure, I have understood this right. That if things were to escalate between India and China at this moment, there is no guarantee that Donald Trump will back India against China?” Palki Sharma asked.

“That is correct,” Bolton said, adding, “I think his gut instinct for the next four months is to take anything off the table that complicates what is already a difficult election campaign for him. So what he would want is quiet along the border whether it benefits China or India. From his point of view – no news is good news.”


WION:Do you think things are developing for the worse between India and China? There is a lot of back and forth. The November elections are still a few months away. Do you think it could escalate to a limited conflict? 

John Bolton:Well, I hope it does not at the present time because with four months to go for an American election, you are simply not going to get Donald Trump’s attention. The fact is China has been behaving in a belligerent fashion, all around its periphery, certainly in the East and South China sea. Its relations with Japan has declined, with India, you are well aware of the facts there.

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.

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

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