There is a long history of tension and conflict on the Sino-Indian border. Certain areas along the 3,800-kilometer-long frontier have been in dispute for decades, and in some spots even longer. In the past half-century, standoffs and skirmishes between Chinese and Indian troops have occurred from time to time. Agreements were signed between New Delhi and Beijing to ensure peace along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and promises were made to resolve the contentious border issues. Not surprisingly, none of these promises would ever bear fruit. The significance of the LAC issues ebbed and flowed with the shifts in global priorities and the international order over the years. The best that could be said was that for the past forty years there were no deadly clashes in the border area.
That streak came to an inglorious end in June, 2020 when Chinese and Indian troops met in the Galwan River valley. No small arms were used, the confrontation was, instead, a melee with swords, sticks, and rocks used as the primary weapons. When it ended 20 Indian and 43 Chinese soldiers were dead and the situation along the Sino-Indian border appeared to be in danger of escalating into a major military confrontation between the two Asian powers. Over the summer, and into the autumn months tension remained high. There was dialogue between the governments and militaries, but no firm de-escalation, and disengagement measures came about. Force buildups continued, as well as provocative troop movements in and around the LAC.
The border area is stable at the moment. Winter fast approaching in the Himalayas and will hamper military operations and movement to a large degree, but this does not guarantee that the winter season will be a quiet one. There are many new facets to the current Sino-Indian crisis that were not present in the past, such as the nuclear element, as well as India’s role as the US counterweight to China. These two facets contribute to making the stakes of this Sino-Indian crisis substantially high.
I have much to say on the Sino-Indian situation, and on their relations in general. As a result, one entry, no matter how detailed, is not going to suffice. So, expect another two entries on the Sino-Indian Crisis in the coming week. If Tuesday weren’t Election Day here in the US I would wrap it up by then. Unfortunately, this won’t be possible so I will post Part II on Monday, and Part III next Thursday.