Indian and Chinese soldiers will remain at their controversial border in the front areas after commander-level talks failed to end a 17-month stalemate this week.
The conflict has a long history of political ambition and diplomatic complications. And the peace and stability of the locals have become the obvious victims.
Both nations together form a huge land mass that is home to almost half of humanity. They lie on both sides of the Himalayas and are rich in past civilizations. But that did not prevent them from waging a war over the exact location of their Himalayan border in 1962.
Since then, there has been an uneasy calm along the 3,440-kilometer mountain border, which has never been separated from China and India, with the occasional flare-up, skirmishes, transgressions and land grabbing. Their responses are often swift and forceful, despite multiple talks at the military level and the 1996 agreement that banned the use of firearms and explosives at the border.
While rivers, lakes and ice caps shift along the high mountains, the controversial border witnesses are confronted in many places. The root of the problem lies in the different perceptions of the two countries.
China, which is embarking on a socialist path under a totalitarian communist leadership, is the second largest defense state in the world; In third place is India, which seeks a theocratic state under the current Hindu nationalist party. A nuclear-powered India is a close ally of the US, the world’s largest defense spending company, and China has brought Pakistan, another nuclear nation, on board as a junior partner.
India must rise above the US diplomatic proxy, or the Chinese must settle their differences with the Americans to give peace a chance
So it is a game in which the nuclear powers intervene in the inhospitable mountains and carry out their dictates. India and China are vying to build strategic infrastructure projects along the border known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
India must rise above the US diplomatic proxy, or the Chinese must settle their differences with the Americans to give peace a chance on one of the highest and coldest battlefields in the world.
With an annual snowfall of around 11 meters, life in the area is not easy. Due to the harsh weather, soldiers have to wear high-altitude clothing, hats, gloves, boots and goggles and light stoves to warm up when temperatures drop to minus 10-15 degrees Celsius in summer and minus 50 degrees Celsius in winter.
For India, the LAC in the mountainous region is 3,488 km, for the Chinese it is only around 2,000 km. It is divided into three sectors – the eastern sector which includes the Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, the middle sector which runs through Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh in East India, and the western sector in centrally administered Ladakh, a sparsely populated but stunning beautiful tourist spot and the scene of frequent confrontations with China.
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Ladakh, with much of its Himalayan terrain over 4,572 meters and wedged between Pakistani-occupied Gilgit Baltistan and Chinese-occupied Aksai Chin, is the most dangerous hotspot in Asia as two superpowers and their aggressive military try to nibble on the territory of the other.
Aksai Chin in the north of Ladakh is a strategic place for China. The disputed territory under Beijing’s control acts as a gateway to the Tibet Autonomous Region and Xinjiang Province, two troubled and sensitive areas that China is constantly worried about. During the invasion of Tibet in 1950, China conquered Aksai Chin under Mao Zedong.
The recent clashes at the border stem from belated efforts by India to build a road network similar to that of China, which raised eyebrows at India’s decision to bring Ladakh under national rule on August 5, 2019.
With a few hundred thousand, the Ladakhis, who are close to the Tibetan Buddhists in culture, language, history and religion, are caught in the grip of increasingly nationalist governments on both sides of the Himalayas where the Chinese have overtaken India for a strategic advantage in the flare-up event .
Since the 1962 war, Ladakh, the third part of the former Indian provincial state of Jammu and Kashmir, has seen frequent territorial incursions.
In the first week of this month, both nations clashed again over the inhospitable terrain.
As a result of the fruitless talks on October 10, Indian soldiers are forced to spend a second winter at high altitude as China refuses to withdraw troops from their current positions
Before the decisive talks at the command level on October 10, there was a conflict between patrolling troops in the eastern section of the Indian-Chinese border in Arunachal Pradesh.
According to the Indian version, the Chinese arrived in “reasonable” strength to face an Indian patrol unit. However, through the intervention of local commanders, the situation was brought under control without undesirable incidents.
The incident in the Tawang Sector in Arunachal Pradesh occurred almost a month after about 100 Chinese soldiers crossed the LAC in the Barahoti Sector in Uttarakhand.
A fatal brawl resulted in 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers in June 2020. India increased its military engagement with the US after the clash.
As a result of the fruitless talks on October 10, Indian soldiers are forced to spend a second winter at high altitude as China refuses to withdraw troops from their current positions.
Massive military armaments and the presence of thousands of Chinese, Pakistani and Indian soldiers in the Himalayas have caused the glaciers to melt faster. The garbage from the costly military maneuvers of three national armies cannot be salvaged due to the hostile weather. This requires their complete withdrawal in order to save these glaciers, which are like a natural dam.
The smoldering tension harbors the risk of escalation that could become ugly for all of Asia and the world
Although the altitude, climate and mountainous terrain of the Himalayas impose severe restrictions on both armies, India sees China as an expansionist adversary and, despite cordial trade ties, its political relations are marked by hostility and suspicion.
With Washington’s support, New Delhi has chosen to compete strategically with China. Military resources that India is investing in the LAC are also aimed at curbing China’s global ambitions and maritime military expansion into the Indian Ocean, where the U.S. Navy recently increased its presence.
As Washington sees Beijing as a competitor to its global ambitions, India, a US client state, and communist China will be tempted to make Ladakh and the entire LAC more vulnerable to violence. In the coming days, this troubled military stalemate will bring more troops, tanks, helicopters and heavy artillery to the region.
The smoldering tension harbors the risk of escalation that could become ugly for all of Asia and the world.
Since the current confrontation is related to the growing geostrategic dispute between China and the US, it will continue unless the Americans and Chinese become bhai-bhai (Brothers), as the Indians once called the Chinese.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.
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