The two nuclear-armed neighbors are now attempting a rapid deescalation of tensions, even as some jingoistic and hawkish voices in both countries are demanding greater defiance and aggression. For its part, China had already moved large numbers of troops and armaments to the region, while India has also reportedly reinforced its position, though New Delhi has been less vocal about its military strength there.
Aksai Chin, the area in contention, is claimed as part of Xinjiang by China and Ladakh by India. It is cold and inhospitable, draped in snow with temperatures around freezing, even in summer. Located high in the Himalayas, the average altitude is 14,000 feet (4,200 meters), almost double the height where altitude sickness kicks in, meaning any humans in the area have to undergo tedious, gradual acclimatisation or suffer crippling headaches, nausea and fatigue.