No place on the planet is safe from chaotic mayhem these days. High in the Himalayas, U.S. ally India had a violent face-off with communist China in brutal hand-to-hand combat which left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead. An unknown number of Chinese soldiers accompanied them to Valhalla. Chinese President Xi Jinping is just waiting for the backlash when the other shoe drops.
A face-off on the roof of the world
Not too far from Mount Everest, in the Himalayan region of Ladakh, at least 20 Indian soldiers including a colonel were killed in what Al Jazeera describes as “a violent confrontation with Chinese troops.” They also call the face-off the “deadliest clash in nearly 50 years.” China isn’t saying how many men they lost in the bloody battle.
According to Indian officials, “no weapons were used in the clash.” Instead, “soldiers engaged in brutal hand-to-hand fighting with clubs and staves.” It all happened 14,000 feet above sea level in freezing “sub-zero temperatures.” The Galwan Valley lies along the Line of Actual Control where opposing troops “have been engaged in a standoff since early last month.” The two nuclear nations have been fighting over the Kashmir region since 1962.
New Delhi blames Beijing for Monday’s face-off. The Chinese, they insist, tried “to unilaterally change the status quo” in the “key geostrategic junction in the Himalayan region where India is building a road to connect to an airstrip close to China.” Since May, “thousands of Chinese troops have crossed to the Indian side of the LAC.” Once they stormed the “de facto border,” they “built bunkers and brought armored trucks and artillery.”
China doing damage control
The battle got the world’s attention and the U.N. advised the countries to use “extreme restraint” while they work out what happened. China is doing damage control by blaming it all on India and calling the situation “stable and controllable.”
Meanwhile, the Indian population is outraged following the face-off. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is laying low. That prompted her opposition leader, Rahul Gandhi, to declare, “Enough is enough, we need to know what happened. How dare China kill our soldiers, how dare they take our land.” China’s Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi reached out to his Indian counterpart to beg for a diplomatic solution to “peacefully resolve the border conflict.”
Why is the PM silent?
Why is he hiding?
Enough is enough. We need to know what has happened.
How dare China kill our soldiers?
How dare they take our land?
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) June 17, 2020
Analysts agree that the current face-off happened because China’s mad at India for building “military infrastructure” right in the middle of their “Belt and road” project to rebuild the ancient caravan route. According to Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Program at The Wilson Center, “China has been concerned at Indian road building along the LAC particularly one road that was completed last year that essentially allows connectivity from Leh, the capital of Ladakh, all the way to Karakoram Pass.”
China’s “economic corridor to Pakistan and Central Asia” drives straight through Karakoram, “which is close to the Galwan Valley.” They have around $60 billion in U.S. dollars invested there.