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China’s Indian Border Skirmish Cools Down



Indias Last Village towards China called "MANA" | China’s Indian Border Skirmish Cools Down | Featured

Amid a dizzying news cycle, filled with intense protests, the upcoming US election, and the continued scourge of the coronavirus pandemic, China has quietly been waging a campaign to bully its neighbors into a new status quo. The latest instance of this campaign is with fellow great power, India. Old border disputes brought the countries to the edge of conflict last month. Things appear to be cooling down. However, one thing is certain: China seeks to expand its domain and to establish a new status quo in the region.

Fresh Disputes at an Old Border

Since May 5th, Chinese and Indian forces have faced off and even scuffled at various locations along the Chinese-Indian border. Such disputes are nothing new. Since the border war of 1962, the two countries’ long stretch of shared border has remained a point of contention. Although, it has never returned to violent conflict.

Recently, the growing tension at the border has manifested itself in armed standoffs, face-to-face shouting matches, and most bizarrely, unarmed scuffles between Chinese and Indian troops. In one such tussle, an Indian Army lieutenant gave a Chinese major a bloody nose for telling Indian soldiers to “go back”.

One of the high-tension areas has been Ladakh, where a Line of Actual Control separates the forces at their disputed border, similar to the Demilitarized Zone in Korea. Last month, Chinese troops began amassing at their side of the border, and state media broadcast troop and vehicle maneuvers in a show of force.

On May 21st, China escalated the situation by sending troops into Indian territory in the Galwan River valley, claiming that India was escalating tensions in the area with its infrastructure projects. India has been building freeways through the area, which China sees as a consolidation of the politically sensitive territory.

Disputes Cool Down, For Now

In late May, President Donald Trump offered to mediate for the two countries, an offer that neither nation seemed interested in. One May 27th, he tweeted:
“We have informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute. Thank you!”

In June, China and India have made some progress toward reducing tensions. This comes with both countries speaking more highly of the other. China has scaled down its military presence in the region, and begun to draw back troops from Indian territory. On June 6, military commanders from both sides met for high level talks. Though no firm agreement was reached, the tone has become more conciliatory since the confab.

Yesterday, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said,
“Through diplomatic and military channels, China and India have recently had effective communication and reached agreement on properly handling the situation in the west section of the China-India boundary. At present, the two sides are taking actions in line with the agreement to ameliorate the border situation.”

India has made no such declaration of an agreement, but tensions seem to have cooled off, for now.

A Year of Chinese Adventurism

China’s adventurism at the Indian border follows a larger pattern. The Chinese people feel unfairly alienated by the rest of the world for its role in the pandemic. They also believe that it’s finally time for China to be respected as a superpower. In this spirit, the country is on a campaign of expansion. In the first half of 2020, China has showcased its intent to push harder against its neighbors and assert its dominance.

China has backed up this sentiment with hard action. It’s essentially revoked Hong Kong’s autonomy thirty years before the agreed-upon date. Additionally, it continued to undermine other countries’ sovereignty in the South China Sea. It also insisted on Taiwanese exclusion from the global pandemic response. Its recent spat with India is only the newest addition to China’s new Wolf Warrior Diplomacy.

China is right about one thing: it’s now the biggest, baddest kid in the neighborhood. Only the United States, located halfway around the world, can match the Red Dragon’s economic and military might. However, bullies don’t tend to have many friends, and if China wants to continue to expand, it needs friendly neighbors. Countries in the region are well aware of the danger that China poses if left unchecked.

This is a pivotal time in geopolitical history. China will either establish a new status quo in Asia as an unrivaled hegemon, or be reigned in by a coalition of states who insist that China play by the same rules as everyone else. The US will play a key part in this struggle, but it’s up to the countries surrounding China, the ones with real skin in the game, to stand up for their future.

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