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The risk of China – India clashing on the ‘roof of the world’

The risk of China - India clashing on the 'roof of the world' 4

The risk of China – India clashing on the ‘roof of the world’

On the `roof of the world` Himalaya, a large-scale brawl occurred between Indian and Chinese soldiers in early May. Scuffles between soldiers of the two countries along the disputed border at high altitudes

A few days later, Chinese soldiers faced Indian soldiers again in several other remote border areas in the Himalayas, some more than 1,600 km from where the last brawl occurred.

The two sides complied with border rules and no shots were fired, but violent clashes took place with fists, stones and sticks.

No one thought that China and India were about to go to war.

Indian and Chinese soldiers during joint exercises at Kunming Military Academy, Yunnan.

US President Donald Trump posted on Twitter on May 27 offering to mediate the `raging border dispute` between India and China, even though neither country requested it.

China’s incursions and force mobilization along the nearly 3,400 km long border with India have raised suspicions of a pressure campaign on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

While the world is busy fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, China steps up its actions to protect its territorial claims, not just in the Himalayas.

`The confrontation with India is consistent with China’s pattern of assertive behavior,` said director of the India Project at the Brookings Institution Tanvi Madan, emphasizing that this is the fourth clash between the two countries’ border guards since

The Indian government disclosed little information about the clashes in the border area, saying in a statement that `China has recently taken a number of actions to obstruct India’s normal patrol routes.`

`The clashes and scuffles with India seem to reflect China’s calculation that the South Asian country is dealing with a rising number of nCoV infections and an economic recession, so it will not push itself into a conflict.

Chellaney said that all this could be `Beijing’s way of sending a political message` to New Delhi not to get too close to Washington, nor to support criticism of China’s handling of the pandemic that the US has made.

The risk of China - India clashing on the 'roof of the world'

Indian military convoy passes Chang La Pass, Ladakh, 2018. Photo: AP.

Before the altercation occurred, India became increasingly aware that China was `surrounding` it by expanding its economic and geopolitical influence in South Asia.

To the east, China’s new friend Nepal just released a map challenging its border with India, prompting New Delhi to accuse Beijing of stirring up trouble.

In more remote waters to the south, China claimed the right to use an island in the Maldives, a few hundred kilometers off the Indian coast.

Meanwhile, China’s Foreign Ministry blamed India for recent tensions, but still tried to downplay the clashes.

`China’s border guards are committed to protecting the country’s territorial security and sovereignty, responding resolutely to India’s intrusion and encroachment, and maintaining peace and tranquility,` the spokesman said.

`If it wants to push out the Chinese, the Indian army will have to launch an armed conflict,` former army colonel Shukla said, but said that this is not happening and India’s options `are limited

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in October 2019 drank coconut water together during a short summit in southern India.

However, China and India are becoming increasingly wary of each other, especially in remote areas on the roof of the Himalayan world.

The risk of China - India clashing on the 'roof of the world'

Disputed border area between China and India.

Analysts say China does not intend to start a war, but only hinders India’s patrol road construction project.

China is also sensitive about its border with India because it borders two regions that Beijing is particularly concerned about: Xinjiang and Tibet.

China and India established border conflict resolution mechanisms in 1962 after the Sino-Indian War.

`Not a single shot has been fired in many years,` said expert Madan, citing the last casualties in border conflicts between China and India in 1975. However, tensions could flare up.

`All conflicts are taking place in the area where the two countries had an armed clash in the 1962 war,` Madan said.

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