The border between India and China is over 2,000 miles long, and disputes – like the recent hand-to-hand altercation of August 15 – are common. In this case, however, India has come to the aid of its ally Bhutan, to whom they’ve long pledged military support and aid dollars. The strained relationship between India and China is not new. India has allowed the Dalai Lama to visit monasteries in areas that China claims belong to Tibet (which is under Chinese rule), and China has blocked Indian efforts to join the Nuclear Supplier Group.
In mid-June, the People’s Liberation Army began construction of a road in the Doklam area and were met by the Royal Bhutan Army. Indian Army soldiers arrived several days later and have been in a standoff with Chinese troops ever since. For several months, both India and China have called for the other to withdraw troops or face the possibility of conflict. Naturally, both countries say the area is critical to their regional security.
This is another example in China’s long history of pushing its borders for strategic goals. Liberty Nation previously reported on China’s construction of artificial islands containing military installations. While China claims the majority of the waters in the South China Sea, Brunei, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam are inclined to disagree. President Trump has already approved a plan for increased Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) in the area to combat these claims and ensure the free access of international waters.
The dispute may very well lead to a repetition of the Sino-Indian War, which occurred from October 20 to November 21, 1962 and resulted in the Chinese gaining absolute control over the Aksai Chin region. The month-long conflict was bloody. The Indian Army suffered 1,383 killed-in-action (KIA) and 1,047 wounded-in-action (WIA). In addition, 1,696 were declared missing and 3,968 were captured. The Chinese however, only suffered 722 KIA and 1,697 WIA.
The Indian Army underwent many reforms in the aftermath of their defeat in 1962 (to better prepare for similar conflicts in the future) and now appears to be readying themselves for another fight. Two mountain divisions moved near the region to acclimate to the higher altitudes.
While this border-dispute is unlikely to result in large-scale war (both countries are nuclear nations, after all), it poses a unique quandary for the Trump administration. During the Sino-Indian War, India requested 12 fighter squadrons, manned by American pilots, to assist in the war. The Kennedy Administration was entrenched in the Cuban Missile Crisis and denied the request.
How will President Trump respond if India makes a similar request? How do the North Korea situation and the United States’ requests (demands) for more Chinese engagement play a part in potential decision making? Tell us what you think in the comments!