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Himalayan Standoff Continues As Nationalism Rises Across Asia


India and China remain locked in a standoff in the high Himalayas. Chinese troops erected a fifth military tent at the camp they set up 16 days ago, 19 kilometers inside Indian territory in the remote northern region of Ladakh. “High placed sources” told India’s Zee News that the Chinese troops are unlikely to withdraw.

The reason for the standoff appears to be increased Indian military construction activity in the region—India reportedly built surveillance bunkers on a key vantage point and over the past few years has laid new roads near the border. Beijing didn’t like that and three weeks ago sent troops over the Line.

This standoff is another example of how nationalism is pushing governments across Asia into more assertive and antagonistic positions against their neighbors. Japan and South Korea both elected nationalist candidates as heads of state in recent elections, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in particular has been showing his true nationalist colors during territorial and historical disagreements with China and others in recent weeks. Meanwhile, Chinese naval and civilian ships regularly patrol territory claimed by other countries, and tension on the Korean peninsula remains high.

Even India is now pushed into a more nationalist stance against its neighbor and chief rival, China. Opposition leaders are calling Prime Minister Manmohan Singh “weak, cowardly, and incompetent”; in response, the Defense Minister promised the government would take “every possible step” to protect its interests.

It cost Europe two hugely destructive wars and millions of deaths to define its borders and put warring communities and countries at peace. Asians are hoping to avoid that process. But their governments are being forced into increasingly antagonistic positions from which it becomes more and more difficult to dial down the pressure.

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  • Anthony

    Gordon Chang has related article (China’s Militant Nationalism) worthy of look for interested readers.

  • qet

    If the Chinese military has occupied (even with only a handful of troops) territory that unequivocally belongs to India (Via Meadia and the Zee Times are unclear whether China is on a patch of “disputed” ground or is on clearly Indian ground), then India ought to evict them forcibly. Yes, that sounds like warmongering and it is very easy to say from my armchair, but if India lets this pass then it will be only the first in a series of such actions by China, whereas some ugliness now might well stave off more massive ugliness later.

    • Bob_from_Ohio

      Just like the French in the Rhineland.

      The area is a lot closer to Indian power centers than Chinese ones. India should have the advantage in any limited confrontation.

  • Luke Lea

    Sounds a little like pre-WWI. With China playing the part of Germany. Is Xi the new Kaiser?

    • Bob_from_Ohio

      More like pre-World War II with Xi the new you know who.

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