FOR nearly six weeks, armed contingents of two of the biggest military forces in the world have faced off in a high-altitude game of chicken in the Himalayas. Roughly 300-400 Indian soldiers and an equal number of Chinese border guards are stuck glowering at one another over a scrubby patch of land at a “tri-junction”, where the two countries and the tiny kingdom of Bhutan all meet. Analysts cannot see how either side might easily stand down. Memories of a bloody border war fought between China and India in 1962 are all too easily evoked.
That war, which saw India humiliated, began after the Chinese built a road across disputed territory in the far west of the two countries’ 4,000km-long, disputed border. The latest problems began when Chinese border guards were spotted moving road-making equipment onto the Dolam plateau, a flat spot in the slightly larger region known as Doklam (or Donglang in Mandarin) which all three sides patrol. On June 18th Indian troops moved onto the plateau...Continue reading