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Tensions Currently Soaring in Asia



Close Up of a World Map with the Border Between North and South Korea in Focus | Tensions Currently Soaring in Asia | Featured

Tensions are currently soaring in Asia. On one hand, Chinese and Indian soldiers were killed in a violent clash on their contested border on Tuesday. It marks the first time lives have been lost in the border dispute since 1975. Meanwhile, North Korea has blown up its liaison office with South Korea in a dramatic cutting of ties. The week has begun with a dangerous escalation of old conflict between several nuclear-armed states across the region.

Lives lost on India-China Border

Since early May, tensions have been high in the Galwan valley. Many consider it as one of the highly contested regions of the Indian border. The situation recently appeared to be cooling off, as high level military leaders were meeting to negotiate a settlement to the standoff. That changed on Monday night, when forces at the disputed border spiraled into a “violent faceoff”.

According to the Indian Army: “During the de-escalation process underway in the Galwan Valley, a violent face-off took place yesterday night with casualties on both sides. The loss of lives on the Indian side includes an officer and two soldiers. Senior military officials of the two sides are currently meeting at the venue to defuse the situation.”

Both sides reportedly suffered casualties. A Chinese military official blamed India for “provoking and attacking Chinese personnel, resulting in serious physical confrontation between border forces on the two sides”.

The skirmish falls short of a declaration of war since no shots were apparently fired. This means that the killed combatants died while either beaten or stoned to death. Nationalist leaders both rule over India and China, and they will not likely back down in this intensifying conflict.

North Korea Blows Up Liaison Office

Across Asia to the east, another old border conflict is once again deteriorating, raising the specter of nuclear war. North Korea is furious with its southern neighbor over the release of balloons carrying propaganda leaflets critical of northern leadership. Last week, the reclusive nation ended its daily call with South Korea. The recent tradition has been a key channel for relieving tensions and increasing communication between the countries.

In a more dramatic message to South Korea, North Korea blew up its liaison office on Tuesday. Commenting on the incident, state media said, “The recent foolish act of daring hurt the dignity of our supreme leadership.” This pertains to the propaganda leaflets floating across the border.

The statement went on, “The world will clearly see what severe punishment our people will mete out to the South Korean authorities and how they wipe the human scum off the earth.”

The bellicose tone of the message has raised alarms among South Korean leadership. South Korean president Moon Jae-in has stepped up intelligence gathering at the demilitarized zone (DMZ), and called a UN National Security Council meeting to discuss recent events. The country will also likely pursue new channels of communication with the Hermit Kingdom.

An Increasingly Anxious Asia

No region has enjoyed great stability to start the new decade, but Asia is perhaps the most troubled region this year. In most cases, China seems to be the center of gravity that is driving these developments.

The coronavirus pandemic set the stage for a more aggressive China, which used the vulnerability of the international community to pursue an expansionist agenda. This year alone, China has repeatedly entered Taiwanese airspace, effectively revoked Hong Kong autonomy, and harassed its neighbors in the South and East China Seas. The dispute with India is just the latest in a more belligerent approach to its regional relations.

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