Several recent reports from the disputed Himalayan region between China and India have seen escalating skirmishes between the two sides.
Readers do not need to be reminded of the potential powder-keg that could be set-off should two of the world’s most populous nations go to war.
The region has been hotly contended since the 1970’s, with relations continuing to deteriorate since. This year has been particularly violent. The June clash in the Galwan Valley – fought with sticks and clubs, not guns – was the first fatal confrontation between the two sides since 1975.
Yes, you read that correctly. The previous deadly encounter between the two sides was fought with sticks and clubs, not modern military hardware. Analysts point out that the escalation of tensions has encouraged command from both sides to avoid building up modern military hardware, for fear of rapidly escalating minor skirmishes. This theory is supported by a 1996 agreement prohibiting the use of guns and explosives near the border – to avoid a confrontation spiralling out of control.
The source of the tension is an ill-defined 3400+Km border disputed by both countries, known as the ‘Line of Actual Control’. This line, due to the geographic structure, means that rivers, lakes and snowcaps shift, often bringing troops face-to-face.
The typically restrained situation has escalated in recent months, with China’s usual diplomatic and conciliatory approach being tested.
China is, as we’ve written before, is almost exclusively committed to ‘peaceful and diplomatic resolution’ in response to almost all geopolitical, trade and military matters, although this stance relative to India seems to be wearing thin.
Aside from the usual bluster from the Global Times and other State-sponsored outlets, China’s hierarchy maintains a considered approach as a rule. With troops in seemingly real and present danger, and India seeking to control the area via the build of infrastructure, China has begun a build-up of military hardware and personnel.
The South China Morning Post report, Chinese troops on the country’s disputed border with India raised their combat readiness to the second-highest possible last week after an exchange of gunfire, but the alert was lowered after a meeting of the nations’ foreign ministers, military sources said.
The increase, to second level, meant more weapons and troops were deployed to the front line, and training exercises were ramped up for commanders, officers and soldiers, a military source told the South China Morning Post.
As the world looks on with growing concern, the usual anchor of nationalistic unity has been reconfirmed by Ministers on the Indian side suggesting that the skirmishes will not affect the all-important trade between the two giants. Although in following days, various types of action were taken on the economic front including cancellation and additional scrutiny of certain contracts with Chinese firms, and calls were also made to stop the entry of the Chinese into strategic markets in India such as the telecom sector.
Increasingly frequent appearances of video from the disputed region have begun appearing, which have been embedded below. The footage shows skirmishes between two loosely commanded groups, brandishing sticks and clubs, although the potential to escalate to a hot-war between two heavily armed sides is very real.
China is making their position clear.
Chart of the Day
India captures Chinese camp in Himalayas