7 September 2023

China and India Aren’t Reaching a Strategic Détente


Recent analyses have pointed to the potential implications of a thaw in India-China relations and have also suggested that a new understanding is indeed underway. They argue that in building up ties with India, the United States should keep in mind that India may not assist it during a conflict in the Taiwan Strait and may thus be a “much less committed American partner.” However, the ground realities of India-China ties tell a different story—that India and China will not be reaching a détente anytime soon. Second, India-U.S. cooperation is not limited to the Taiwan question, and India’s reliability as a counterweight to China should not be reduced to this.

First, although deep economic ties are put forward as a reason for an India-China détente, they are hardly a metric to judge the health of relations by. Trade is extensive but lopsided, with a deficit of $101.02 billion. Thus, in recent years, economic ties have become a source of concern rather than a factor of stability. As far back as 2017, then commerce minister and current Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman informed the Lok Sabha that India’s trade deficit with China was a “matter of concern” and that the government was working to reduce it. This was echoed by commerce minister Piyush Goyal in 2018, who detailed India’s efforts to reduce the trade deficit in a written reply to the Lok Sabha. Notably, this was three years before the Galwan crisis. The incentive to reduce dependency on the Chinese economy, and efforts to this end, have only increased since then.

Second, a careful analysis reveals that the keenness to “defuse their quarrel” only seems to be present on the Indian side. On the contrary, China has a keen interest in keeping the border active. Retaining the initiative and engaging in proactive coercion on the border is intended to underscore China’s strength relative to India. It is undertaken to show the United States and the rest of the Indo-Pacific, particularly South Asia, that India is unable to manage its own security at its frontier. Therefore, it cannot be relied upon to bolster deterrence in the Indo-Pacific, or to be a net security provider in South Asia.

China’s new national map has angered its neighbours

Rhea Mogul

The Philippines has become the latest of China’s neighbors to object to its new national map, joining Malaysia and India in releasing strongly worded statements accusing Beijing of claiming their territory.

China published a new version of its national map on Monday, as it has regularly done since at least 2006, to correct what Beijing has in the past referred to as “problematic maps” that it claims misrepresent its territorial borders.

The Philippines said Thursday it “rejected” the map because of its inclusion of a dashed line around contested areas of the South China Sea that was subject to an international tribunal ruling in 2016 that found in favor of Manila.

The map is the “latest attempt to legitimize China’s purported sovereignty and jurisdiction over Philippine features and maritime zones (and) has no basis under international law,” the Philippines Foreign Affairs department said in a statement.

India was the first to complain on Tuesday when it lodged a “strong protest” about the inclusion of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh and the disputed Aksai-Chin plateau in Chinese territory.

“We have today lodged a strong protest through diplomatic channels with the China side on the so-called 2023 ‘standard map’ of China that lays claim to India’s territory,” India’s foreign secretary, Arindam Bagchi, said in a statement. “We reject these claims as they have no basis.”

Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also dismissed China’s “unilateral claims,” adding the southeast Asian nation “is consistent in its position of rejecting any foreign party’s claims to sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction on Malaysia’s maritime features.”

Don’t Work With the Taliban Work Around Them, Instead

Roya Rahmani

Two years have passed since the Taliban completed their takeover of Afghanistan, but Western governments and nongovernmental organizations remain stumped about how to deal with the country. Hunger and poverty are rampant, and Western countries often end up accidentally punishing the Afghan people for the loathsome policies of their leaders. After the Taliban banned women from working in most jobs outside the home, some aid agencies scaled back their operations or threatened to withdraw from Afghanistan entirely. Continuing to work in the country, they believed, would mean abandoning Afghan women. But walking away from Afghanistan in defence of women’s.

Russia Is Commandeering the U.N. Cybercrime Treaty

Rishi Iyengar, Robbie Gramer and Anusha Rathi

Negotiations over a U.N. cybercrime treaty have evolved into a diplomatic proxy war between democracies and their authoritarian rivals over competing future visions of the internet, technology, and human rights in the digital age, pitting the United States and its allies yet again against Russia and China at the United Nations.

How Russia Globalized the War in Ukraine

Michael Kimmage and Hanna Notte

From the outset of his invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s vast ambitions for the war were obvious. He intended to topple the government in Kyiv and either partition or take control of Ukraine. But Putin’s aspirations extended beyond carving a sphere of influence in central and eastern Europe. By subjugating the Ukrainian polity, Putin hoped to initiate a new era of global politics, one detached from American leadership. He promised an international system that would be genuinely postcolonial, solicitous of conservative values, and robustly multipolar, with Russia serving as one of its central arbiters.

Even after setback after setback on the battlefield in Ukraine, Putin remains committed to a brutal, immiserating war effort. He will do what he can to isolate and impoverish Ukraine in pursuit of an international order that sidelines the West and restores Russia’s proper place in the world, as he construes it. Announced by Putin at the 2007 Munich Security Conference, Moscow’s turn from the West accelerated after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, reaching a breaking point with the invasion of Ukraine in 2022. The longer the war lasts, the more Putin will look for opportunities to undermine and supplant the West.

Russia’s strategy to globalize the war has multiple dimensions. In its economic relations, Moscow has capitalized on the opportunism of countries indifferent to the conflict: the Kremlin aims to integrate Russia into non-Western networks of trade, defense, and commerce. Ideologically, Russia blames the war on Western deceit and Ukrainian betrayal, leveling accusations of hypocrisy against the United States and its allies. Diplomatically, Russia and the West are carrying the conflict into international institutions. Whether in the UN Security Council or at the International Atomic Energy Agency, whatever modus vivendi there had once been between Russia and the West has come apart. By nurturing apathy and frustration with the war in non-Western capitals, Moscow hopes that other countries will join its ranks or at the very least distance themselves from the West.

The G-7 Becomes a Power Player

G. John Ikenberry

Time and again over the last century, the United States and the other liberal democracies in Europe, East Asia, and elsewhere have found themselves on the same side in grand struggles over the terms of the world order. This political grouping has been given various names: the West, the free world, the trilateral world, the community of democracies. In one sense, it is a geopolitical formation, uniting North America, Europe, and Japan, among others. It is an artifact of the Cold War and U.S. hegemony, anchored in NATO and Washington’s East Asian alliances. In another sense, it is a non-geographic grouping, a loosely organized community defined by shared, universal-oriented political values and principles. It is an artifact of the rise and spread of liberal democracy as a way of life.

Decoding the G20 Consensus on Digital Public Infrastructure: A Key Outcome of India’s Presidency


On August 19, 2023, the G20 ministers dealing with the digital economy met in Bengaluru. An outcome document was published that evening. The first—and perhaps the most important—section of the document stated:1

“Under the Indian Presidency’s initiative, we recognise that digital public infrastructure, hereinafter referred to as DPI, is described as a set of shared digital systems that should be secure and interoperable, and can be built on open standards and specifications to deliver and provide equitable access to public and / or private services at societal scale and are governed by applicable legal frameworks and enabling rules to drive development, inclusion, innovation, trust, and competition and respect human rights and fundamental freedoms.”


For the first time, a multilateral grouping of twenty jurisdictions recognized the importance of DPI, provided a working definition for it, and detailed principles and approaches that might be considered in its development and deployment. To those following the DPI journey, this is as big as it gets. For G20 officials who were new to this journey, the import of DPI became clearer following each interaction with negotiators and knowledge partners alike.

This was not so much the case of one aha moment but a crash course in what DPI has done and can do if a consensus were to emerge. Negotiators and their bureaucracies understood the value of DPI in delivering digital services and making direct cash transfers in times of emergencies as well as of getting access to technology features that could verify electronic records and make travel easier. The possibilities, they understood, were countless.

53 members of Burkina security forces killed in suspected jihadist attack

Fifty-three members of the security forces have been killed in an attack by suspected jihadists in northern Burkina Faso, the army said on Tuesday.

Seventeen soldiers and 36 civilian volunteers for the army died on Monday while repelling an "attack," the army general staff said in a statement.

The unit had been deployed in the town of Koumbri in Yatenga province to help the resettlement of residents forced out of the area by jihadists more than two years ago, it said.

About 30 members of the security forces were injured, the army added.

It said that several attackers had been "neutralised" in a counter-operation and their combat equipment destroyed.

Operations are still under way in the area, it said.

Burkina Faso saw two military coups last year, triggered -- as in neighbouring Mali and Niger -- by anger at failures to stem a jihadist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives.

Since 2015, more than 16,000 civilians, troops and police have died in jihadist attacks in Burkina Faso, according to a count by an NGO monitor called the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).

Is Biden’s food stamp expansion inflating grocery prices?


Since President Biden entered the Oval Office in January 2021, spending for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, has increased by 27 percent. This giant increase in SNAP funding has unsurprisingly coincided with a steep rise in food prices.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Average annual food-at-home prices were 11.4 percent higher in 2022 than in 2021. For context, the 20-year historical level of retail food price inflation is 2.0 percent per year. In 2022, prices for all food categories increased faster than their historical averages from 2002–21. Prices for nine food categories increased by more than 10 percent in 2022.”

Is this just a coincidence? Correlation does not necessarily imply causation, but a new report from the Foundation for Government Accountability contains data indicating a direct relationship between spiking prices at the grocery store and the Biden administration’s misguided decision to break the bank on SNAP funding.

“Taxpayer spending on food stamps contributes to higher inflation, leading to higher grocery prices for all,” the report states. “Researchers at the World Bank reviewed more than a decade of retail scanner data before and after the Great Recession to measure the impact food stamp spending has on food prices. … That research found that a 1 percent increase in per-capita food stamp benefits increased grocery store prices by 0.08 percent. Put another way: Food prices increase by one percent for every 12.5 percent increase in food stamp spending.”

If you want to save the planet, look to the people


Nature isn’t a “nice to have” for a select few — it’s a “must have” for all people, and all life, on Earth. And yet, when it comes to decisionmaking about nature, the voices of a select few end up drowning out the rest.

Rectifying this longstanding inequity is a matter of pragmatism as much as fairness. According to our research, published this month in the scientific journal Nature, conservation strategies that incorporate diverse views and values are more likely to yield lasting, large-scale benefits for both people and nature.

The Biden administration has recently taken several important steps to adopt a broader view of nature’s value when it comes to natural resource management. But our research makes a strong case for going even further in connecting values of nature to other societal values like justice.

In our review of more than 50,000 academic publications, policy documents and other sources of knowledge such as Indigenous and local communities, we found a common theme: The people who call the shots — whether it’s in regard to natural habitat protection and restoration efforts or environmental assessments of dams and other development projects — often regard nature solely through the lens of market-based values. In the process, they ignore the many other ways that people may care about and benefit from nature.

Are legacy admissions on the way out?


Public and legislative opinion have turned sharply against legacy admissions, a long-standing policy that gives children of alumni and donors an edge in gaining entry to many of the nation’s most selective colleges.

Several elite institutions have recently abandoned the practice, and some experts predict it will vanish entirely in the near future.

Two of the nation’s most prestigious liberal arts schools, Wesleyan University and Occidental College, eliminated legacy admissions this summer, along with the public flagship University of Minnesota. Their names join a growing list of elite institutions that have rejected legacy preferences, including Amherst and Pomona colleges and Johns Hopkins University.

More than 100 colleges and universities in all have ended legacy preferences since 2015, according to a report from the nonprofit Education Reform Now.

The movement took on new urgency this summer, following the Supreme Court ruling in June that effectively struck down affirmative action, barring schools from considering race in admissions.

Ramaswamy outlines his policy differences with Trump


GOP presidential candidate and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy talked about his policy differences with former President Trump in an interview Thursday.

“I think we’re deeply aligned on policy, 90-plus percent of the way,” Ramaswamy said on Fox News. “There are some small differences. I would rescind affirmative action. I would militarize the southern border instead of just building the wall. I would shut down the U.S. Department of Education, not just put a good person, [former Education Secretary] Betsy DeVos, on top to reform it.”

Ramaswamy has effusively praised Trump throughout his campaign, promising to pardon the former president of any potential convictions on his first day in the White House. Fox News hosts pressed Ramaswamy on whether there was any daylight between him and Trump.

“We have some of our areas of differences, but they are small,” Ramaswamy said, adding he and Trump were “the two ‘America-first’ candidates” in the race.

Time to Choose What to Do About Ukraine

Kurt Schlichter

No one wants to hear about Ukraine again, but we need to talk about Ukraine again. The Republican debate the other week highlighted the problem. And the problem is simple. There are no good answers, but all the candidates are going to have to pick one anyway. This is one giant Slavic Schiff sandwich, and everybody’s got to take a bite.

But there is no point in muttering about how if Biden was not such an incompetent half-wit who had humiliated us in Afghanistan Putin would never have invaded, or observe that Putin never invaded when Trump was in charge. We are where we are, and the current situation is a mess. The Ukrainian offensive spearheaded by Western-trained and equipped units has not made the breakthroughs our generals hoped for. The Russians have done what Russians do, dig in. Their defenses are tough, and the Ukrainians are not skilled enough in combined arms operations to break through them. What you have, for now, is a bloody stalemate like the western front of World War I.

Yeah, this could go on for a long, long time, or worse, it could change rapidly. That’s my fear. Anyone who knows Russian military history knows the Russians get kicked around early in the war, fire their bad generals, train a new army, and then come back and win. That could happen here. True, Russia’s population is shrinking, but with a couple hundred million of them they have a nearly endless supply of cannon fodder. The Ukrainians don’t. In a stalemate, the Russians gather forces until they are ready to launch an overwhelming offensive at the time and place of their choosing. And there is no guarantee the Ukrainians can hold.

China sets aside chip war, moves on with US


China has changed its strategy in a chip war against the United States by focusing more on damage control after it failed to make Washington lift its export ban in three high-level official talks over the past three months.

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo finished her four-day trip to China on Wednesday. Her trip came after State Secretary Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary visited Beijing in June and July, respectively.

After Raimondo and Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao held a four-hour meeting in Beijing on Monday, there has been no sign that either side will lift its export ban or lower its extra tariffs against the other.

But despite their disagreements in trade disputes, they agreed to set up a new commercial issues working group for government officials and private sector representatives to seek solutions on trade and investment issues. The working group will meet twice annually at the vice-minister level, with the US hosting the first meeting in early 2024.

The two countries also launched an export control enforcement information exchange platform. The first assistant secretary-level meeting was held in Beijing on Tuesday. Besides, an in-person meeting at the ministerial level will be held at least once a year to discuss commercial and economic issues.

UAE’s BRICS move shows global role of middle powers


For much of the 20th century, international diplomacy was primarily molded by a global framework where superpowers held sway over most of the world’s political and economic assets. The early 1990s, however, marked a shift toward a singular dominant power structure, with the United States taking the role as global leader.

Yet today, a fresh transformation is under way, one in which a multipolar landscape positions middle powers as crucial actors.

The decision to invite six new members – Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (all of which are considered middle powers) – into the BRICS group of economies brings substantial value to advancing economic diplomacy and political reconciliation in a rapidly changing global landscape.

Cooperation has become essential in a world grappling with shared global challenges. However, the existing framework of international relations is buckling beneath the weight of enduring and emerging geopolitical rivalries.

The rekindling of prolonged land warfare through Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shattered the notion that such conflict was consigned to history. The impending divergence in trade and technology between the US and China has far-reaching implications.

China’s Dark Cloud Over the SA Economy

Desmond Lachman

It is said that when the US economy sneezes the rest of the world economy catches pneumonia. We have to wonder whether the same might not be said about the Chinese economy. After all, it is now the world’s second-largest.

Until recently it was also the main engine of world economic growth and the main driver of international commodity prices. Compounding matters, rather than simply sneezing, the Chinese economy seems to be on the cusp of pneumonia.

As a commodity exporter, SA, with the other commodity-dependent emerging market economies, is particularly vulnerable to an unfavourable Chinese economic outcome. Not only because a Chinese economic slowdown would have a meaningful effect on Chinese import demand and international commodity prices. Rather, it is because a Chinese slowdown could have important spillover effects for China’s Asian trade partners, Germany, Australia and the other commodity-dependent economies, which all have a high dependence on the Chinese market for their exports. That in turn could tip the world economy into recession.

The Chinese economy seems to be in the eye of a perfect economic storm. There is now every sign that the country’s outsize property and credit market bubble is bursting. If so, it will be doing so while the country has to contend with intensifying US trade restrictions and a slowing world economy.

U.S. Must Remain the World’s Defense Against Tyranny

Rep. Mark Green

It’s time to admit that the United Nations and the United States no longer share common values. While the U.S. remains committed to the promotion of representative government, decentralized power, and the defense of individual freedoms, the U.N. is dedicated to centralizing control and the promotion of tyrants.

In March, the United Nations released a proposal for creating an “emergency platform” response protocol for future “complex global shocks.” Such an emergency response could be triggered and extended unilaterally by the ​​U.N. Secretary-General. These global emergencies can include anything from a manufactured crisis from radical climate activists, another pandemic, supply chain issues, or a cyber disruption. According to the platform, the key to implementing the plan is ensuring participating actors are committed to sustaining the response through financial, technical, and other means of support.

The current U.N. Secretary-General, António Guterres, is a member of the Portuguese Socialist Party. There is little question that this emergency plan would be used to further his redistributive priorities. There is also no doubt that one of the goals of the U.N.’s plan is to further its extreme climate agenda. Many U.N. leaders align more closely with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s radical Green New Deal than with the average American trying to heat their home, put gas in the car, and keep the lights on. We can’t follow the U.N.’s lead, not when it goes against America’s fundamental principles or when it allows internationalists at the U.N. to shape domestic American laws.

Sarkozy vilified for speaking uncomfortable truths about Ukraine

Anatol Lieven

In an interview with Le Figaro published on August 16 and based on his new book, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy laid out what has been missing from Western thinking on the war in Ukraine: a diplomatic Plan B in case the present Ukrainian offensive fails.

If it does fail, as seems increasingly probable, the most likely alternative to a diplomatic solution is an indefinite and bloody war of attrition along roughly the present battle lines.

Quite apart from the threats of disastrous escalation and a NATO-Russia war described by Sarkozy, Westerners who are or claim to be friends of Ukraine should consider the consequences of an unending war on that country. These include a continuation of dreadful human losses and continued destruction of the Ukrainian economy, with no certainty at all over who will pay to rebuild it. They would also entail the indefinite postponement of the process of EU accession, which would have offered Ukraine its best chance of truly joining the West and the inability of Ukrainian refugees to return home, leading to a catastrophic and permanent decline in Ukraine’s population.

In addition to all of this: the possibility that a Ukrainian army exhausted and bled white by years of failed offensives will eventually fall victim to a Russian counter-attack, leading to territorial losses far greater than Ukraine has suffered so far.

UK cyber agency warns of potentially fundamental flaw in AI technology

Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is warning of an apparently fundamental security flaw affecting large language models (LLMs) — the type of AI used by ChatGPT to conduct human-like conversations. Since the launch of ChatGPT last November, the bulk of security concerns regarding the technology have focused on its ability to produce human-like speech automatically. Today, criminals are now actively deploying their own versions to generate “remarkably persuasive” fraudulent emails. But aside from using LLM software properly for malicious ends, there are potential vulnerabilities arising directly from its use and integration with other systems — particularly when the technology is used to interface with databases or other components of a product. It’s known as a “prompt injection” attack, and the NCSC said that the problem may be fundamental. “Research is suggesting that an LLM inherently cannot distinguish between an instruction and data provided to help complete the instruction,” warned the agency. While some of the popular examples on social media of getting Bing to appear to have an existential crisis are largely amusing and cosmetic, this flaw could be more severe for commercial applications that include LLMs.

SEC adopts rule requiring companies to disclose cyber incidents


The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted a rule this week that will require publicly traded companies to report significant cyber incidents that are “material” to investors.

Companies will have four business days to report to the agency from the time they determine that the incident was material.

“Whether a company loses a factory in a fire — or millions of files in a cybersecurity incident — it may be material to investors,” SEC Chair Gary Gensler said in a statement.

“Currently, many public companies provide cybersecurity disclosure to investors. I think companies and investors alike, however, would benefit if this disclosure were made in a more consistent, comparable, and decision-useful way,” he added.

Under the new rule, companies will have to disclose the incident’s nature, scope, timing and impact.

Companies will also have to explain the processes they have in place to assess, identify and manage risks from cyber threats.

Reed Loden, vice president of security at Teleport, said that the ruling is long overdue and something the industry has been needing for awhile.

“I’m hopeful that this ruling will act as a catalyst for all organizations to remain open and transparent about their incidents and share as much information as possible,” Loden said.

Homecoming in Thailand

Sribala Subramanian

Vacharaesorn Vivacharawongse, the estranged son of Thailand’s King Vajiralongkorn, during his recent trip to Thailand.Credit: Facebook/Vacharaesorn Vivacharawongse

“Happy Birthday, father.”

The Facebook greeting was posted on July 27 by the estranged son of King Vajiralongkorn of Thailand. Below the message was a vintage photo of the King wearing a black military uniform. The birthday post ended with a wai emoji, a symbol of respect.

A few days after he sent the greeting, Vacharaesorn Vivacharawongse was on a plane bound for Bangkok. “When I looked out of the window before landing I was delighted,” said the 42-year-old lawyer from New York. He was returning after an absence of nearly three decades, having left the country as a teenager soon after his parents’ divorce. Vacharaesorn insisted he was visiting as a private citizen, but his homecoming caused a stir in Thailand’s capital.

A series of recent events have complicated the succession scenario for Thailand’s royal family. The 71-year-old King has not formally named an heir, but his daughter from his first marriage was presumed to be next in line. Last December, however, Princess Bajirakitiyabha collapsed from a “heart-related issue” while working out with her dogs. The palace later confirmed that doctors had placed her on a life support machine. The King’s son from his third consort is his only officially recognized male offspring. But the status of 18-year-old Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti is reportedly uncertain partly because his mother relinquished her royal title in 2014.

Chinese spies target Android users with fake Signal, Telegram apps

Stefanie Schappert

Two separate Chinese spy campaigns involving fake Signal and Telegram messaging apps targeting US and European Android users were discovered by ESET security researchers.

The research, released by ESET Wednesday, said a Chinese-linked threat group, known as GREF, created fake versions of the encrypted messaging apps and loaded them onto the Google Play and Samsung Galaxy Stores.

Hoping to lure unsuspecting Android users to download the apps on their phones, the Chinese hackers were said to have been actively deploying the malicious apps since July 2020 and July 2022, respectively.

It appears thousands of users have downloaded the trojanized apps – which the attackers named “Signal Plus Messenger” and “FlyGram,” created by mimicking the Signal application (signalplus[.]org) and a Telegram alternative app(flygram[.]org).

Through the use of telemetry, ESET said the fraudulent apps were detected on Android devices worldwide, with larger numbers found in the US, several EU nations, as well as Ukraine.

“Fear of cyber war has played into Russia’s hands”

Mobile electronic equipment instead of cyber attacks: Russia is very successful in using jammers to disrupt the enemy’s communications or radar systems.

Russian Defense Ministry

The war in Ukraine is also being waged in cyberspace. But which targets the attackers are targeting and what damage they cause often remains nebulous. Russia is a major power in cyberspace. But the impact of its cyber attacks on critical infrastructures seems limited.

On Leadership with Mike Erwin of Team Red, White, and Blue

John Waters

John Waters speaks with entrepreneur, Army veteran, and author Mike Erwin about applying lessons from the military to positive leadership off the battlefield. Erwin is a graduate of West Point and served as an Intelligence officer in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning two Bronze Stars. After studying positive psychology and leadership at the University of Michigan, he founded “Team Red, White, and Blue,” a nonprofit connecting veterans through physical and social activity. He is also the author of two books on leadership: “Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leaders Through Solitude” and, most recently, “Leadership is a Relationship: How to Put People First in the Digital Age.”

Impasse at the LAC: An Examination of the 2013, 2014, and 2015 Standoffs



In June 2020, the Indian and Chinese forces clashed in the Galwan Valley, a remote area in the Himalayas along the disputed border between the two countries. Twenty Indian and at least five Chinese soldiers were killed. The incident was among a series of encounters between Indian and Chinese troops at multiple locations in Ladakh since April 2020. A suggestion of deepening mistrust between the two neighbors, this singular incident serves as a watershed.

This was the first time in decades that there were fatalities on the India-China border.1 A debate flared up about the long-term implications of the clash on the India-China relationship. However, clashes have taken place in the past as well. This study examines three standoffs between India and China in 2013, 2014, and 2015 with the view to situate the current impasse. It presents a detailed account of the three border crises and how the two countries tried to manage them. In none of the three cases were the terms of disengagement of troops made public. Therefore, it is tough to present a complete picture of considerations made by both sides. However, the study finds that the significance of these events is growing as border incidents between India and China occur more frequently and take longer to resolve. A report of how matters evolved in the three specific standoffs can be of value for Indian decisionmakers.

First, it is necessary to establish context. The de facto border, the Line of Actual Control (LAC), is a magnet for standoffs between Indian and Chinese border patrols. As the LAC is unsettled and un-demarcated, there are roughly a dozen stretches along the frontier where the two countries cannot agree on its location. These are the source of hundreds of transgressions by Chinese border patrols annually.2 Second, an elaborate series of bilateral mechanisms were developed to keep the LAC free of any fatal exchanges. However, on occasion, these devolve into more serious intrusions as witnessed in 2013, 2014, and 2015.