India-China clash: An extraordinary escalation 'with rocks and clubs' | Daily News


India-China clash: An extraordinary escalation 'with rocks and clubs'

"It is looking bad, very bad," says security analyst Vipin Narang, of the deadly clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers in Ladakh on Monday night.

The most serious face-off on the world's longest unsettled land border in nearly half a century left 20 Indian soldiers dead. India says both sides suffered casualties.

"Once fatalities are sustained, keeping everything quiet becomes hard on both sides. Now public pressure becomes a variable," Dr Narang, a security studies professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told me.

"The scale, scope and swathe of the pressure across the border is seemingly unprecedented."

The two nuclear armed neighbours have a chequered history of face-offs and overlapping territorial claims along the more than 3,440km (2,100 mile), poorly drawn Line of Actual Control (LAC) separating the two sides. Border patrols have often bumped into each other, resulting in occasional scuffles. But no bullets have been fired in four decades.

That is why the latest clash, following months of roiling tension, has taken many by surprise.

"It is an extraordinary escalation," Shashank Joshi, Defence Editor at The Economist magazine, told me. "No shots fired for 45 years, and then at least 20 soldiers dead in one evening in rock-throwing and bludgeoning." The clash comes amid fresh tensions between the two powers, which have brawled along the border in recent weeks but not exchanged any gunfire.

Reports say in early May, Chinese forces put up tents, dug trenches and moved heavy equipment several kilometres inside what had been regarded by India as its territory in Galwan valley in Ladakh. Ajai Shukla, a leading Indian defence analyst, has claimed that China had captured 60 sq km of Indian-patrolled territory in the area in the past one month. India claims China already occupies 38,000sq km (about 14,700sq miles) of its territory.

The move came after India built a road several hundred kilometres long connecting to a high-altitude forward air base which it reactivated in 2008.

(Source: BBC News)

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