onsdag 17. juni 2020

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.