The Associated Press reports that Chinese and Indian soldiers had an altercation at Ladakh — a disputed area between the two countries on China’s far western front, over a thousand miles removed from the larger conflict at Doklam — though no guns came out and no further escalation occurred after those involved returned to their regular posts.
So what went down?
Three Indian officials, from the police, intelligence services, and military, spoke anonymously to the AP and reported these events:
- “Indian soldiers intercepted a Chinese patrol that veered into Indian-held territory after apparently it lost its way due to bad weather.”
- “The Chinese soldiers hurled stones while attempting to enter [the] Ladakh region,” and “Indian soldiers retaliated but neither side used guns.”
- After nearly 30 minutes, the troops retreated, though not before “some soldiers from both sides received minor injuries.”
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said they did not know the details of what happened, and did not contest this account, though the Defense Ministry has yet to comment, Reuters reports.
Another police officer told AFP, “These things happen every summer, but this one was slightly prolonged and more serious.”
The situation is indeed serious: The South China Morning Post notes that the incident puts into doubt the effectiveness of risk control systems between the two Asian powers, and military conflict between China and India is at least, if not more, likely than any open clash in the Korean Peninsula.
Meanwhile, the two Himalayan nations with the conflict on their doorsteps — Nepal and Bhutan — are stuck in uncomfortable situations as their two giant neighbors face off:
- Bhutan has long been closer to India and houses Indian troops on its border with China, yet “many in Bhutan find India’s protective embrace to be suffocating,” the New York Times reports (paywall).
- Nepal has officially maintained a neutral stance in conflicts between the two Asian powers, but its economic connections are becoming less dominated by India: This week, the Nepalese and Chinese governments signed a “$1 million humanitarian aid package” and an oil and gas exploration agreement, SCMP reports.
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