Himalayan Standoff Continues As Nationalism Rises Across Asia
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.