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Border Bluster
Not-So-Quiet on the Indian-Chinese Front

The face-off between Chinese and Indian troops on the countries’ shared border made headlines when it disrupted Xi Jinping’s visit to India in September, but it was only one flareup in a longstanding, volatile dispute. The WSJ has an excellent report that places it in context:

China is…making a less-noticed push in the west to enforce claims along its 2,200-mile (3,400-kilometer) frontier with India. India says the number of what it describes as Chinese “transgressions” across the two countries’ ill-defined boundary has climbed sharply—to more than 400 last year from 213 in 2011.

At times the disputes have revolved around issues as minor as the location of a hut to shelter herders. Many details of the most-recent standoff, based on Wall Street Journal interviews near where the incident occurred, haven’t previously been reported.

China’s Defense Ministry didn’t respond to questions about India’s figures and declined to say if Indian troops cross into the Chinese side. Both countries say their forces don’t leave what they consider to be their own territory.

We encourage you to read the whole thing. As the WSJ notes, the China-India dispute gets far less attention than China’s maneuvers in its surrounding seas, but the conflict between two of the world’s most ambitious rising powers should make people sit up and take notice.

China has so far outpaced India in building infrastructure in its border regions, but India is working to close the gap. One Indian expert warns the WSJ not to expect a decrease in tensions anytime soon: “Both militaries are now operating much closer to the border. That could mean more incidents and more intense incidents.” That’s an ominous trend worth watching closely.

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