torsdag 9. mars 2023

Tawang: The Indian monastery town coveted by China

High in the Himalayas, the holy town of Tawang is one of the most intractable issues in the border dispute between India and China - and a potential flashpoint for future conflict. Along snow-capped ridges to its north, soldiers from Asia's two biggest armies face off, sometimes just a few hundred metres apart. Last December, they clashed in what some experts saw as a worrying sign of how things could escalate.

Tawang, a pilgrimage site for Tibetan Buddhists perched some 3,000m (10,000ft) above sea level, is home to India's largest Buddhist monastery. For this reason and because of its strategic location, it's long been the focus of tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours. The town is claimed by China. Tibet, annexed by China in 1950, lies just 35km (22 miles) to the north. "It's not just the Tawang sector," Zhou Bo, a retired senior colonel in the Chinese People's Liberation Army, told the BBC. "The entire Arunachal Pradesh [state], which we call southern Tibet, has been illegally occupied by India - it's non-negotiable."