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CvT: The Himalayan Shots Heard ‘Round the World

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Similar to that of the US-China relationship, the China-India relationship has been characterized by escalating conflict throughout 2020. The source of the friction: the two nations’ eagerness to expand infrastructure along an ill-defined 2,100 mile-long shared border in the Ladakh region of the Himalayas.

China and India have always shared a border, with violence dating back over 60 years over land claims. Deaths in a 1975 skirmish eventually led to a 1996 agreement between the two nations prohibiting the use of guns and explosives near the border. However, once India began constructing a high-altitude air base in the region, violence from the Chinese side led to the deaths of 20 Indian and an unreleased amount of Chinese soldiers earlier this year.

China and India are the world’s most populous countries, with 1.38 billion and 1.31 billion citizens each, respectively. Besides being extremely populated countries, both sides are also militarily strong and nuclear-equipped. Many experts fear that without de-escalation from either side, this border dispute could quickly heighten into a more dangerous conflict.

Beyond military escalation, the fallout has extended into the economic sphere between the two countries as well. Nationwide protests in India have aimed to “Boycott Made in China” as the nation attempts to address its US$58 billion dollar deficit with China. Apart from economic measures, citing similar security concerns as the US, India has blocked over 150 Chinese apps, including TikTok. 

This story is developing and both sides have recently taken steps toward repairing diplomatic ties, with top leaders from both nations declaring their common goal of reaching a peaceful solution. Top government officials from both sides will meet in Moscow in hopes of reaching an agreement. Until then, both sides have built arsenals and established strict “red-lines” on their respective sides. The question remains, ‘if this conflict worsens, will the US play a diplomatic middle-man role, or will it back up the world’s largest democracy?’

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