A simmering conflict between India and China in a remote border region in the mountains is showing no signs of abating, as more soldiers and military hardware are reportedly moving towards what is being openly discussed as a possible war by the media in both countries.
The conflict, a border dispute in a rugged area between India, China, and Bhutan, was originally seen as a minor spat over the boundaries of ill-defined borders. It began after Indian troops contested the building of a Chinese road near a strategically important part of India.
As of now, the fight is being waged through aggressive statements and editorials printed in state-run newspapers and media outlets. A major Chinese military exercise in nearby Tibet encouraged reports of hundreds of dead and wounded Indian troops from media in both India and China earlier this week, which was quickly rebuffed by Chinese and Indian authorities.
An editorial printed in the Chinese Global Times on Tuesday has stoked fears and accusations from Indian politicians that the Chinese are gearing up for war, to include claims of an alliance with Pakistan.
The editorial, titled “India’s provocation will trigger all-out confrontation on LAC” (LAC means the Line of Actual Control. India and China’s border has never been officially designated, and is the source of continuous disagreement. The LAC is where both countries physically control their respective territory in the general region)
— Strategic Sentinel (@StratSentinel) July 17, 2017
The editorial is primarily about Chinese sovereignty and the belief that India is losing a greater conflict across economic and military lines.
China doesn’t recognize the land under the actual control of India is [sic] Indian territory. Bilateral border negotiations are still ongoing, but the atmosphere for negotiations has been poisoned by India. China doesn’t advocate and tries hard to avoid a military clash with India, but China doesn’t fear going to war to safeguard sovereignty either, and will make itself ready for a long-term confrontation.”
The last war between India and China in 1962—a nominal Chinese victory—ended after a negotiated ceasefire. The conflict killed around 2,000 soldiers, and likely would have killed many more had the logistical hurdles of fighting a war in the unforgiving mountain terrain between India and China not dictated the pace of the conflict.
A report in Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post speculated that a recent major Chinese military exercise in Tibet was an excuse to move into position, the logistical foundation that would be required to fight in the remote region.
It remains to be seen if China views war with a massive military rival as conducive to their long-term goals of achieving economic superpower status.
Featured Image shows Indian soldiers training with Americans, courtesy of the Department of Defense