Chinese and Indian authorities will meet today to discuss the recent military stand-off at Ladakh, a territory formerly part of Kashmir that is disputed between India and China.
Though there have been small-scale instances of violence between Chinese and Indian troops since the 73-day standoff in Doklam in 2017, tensions have been increasing dramatically due to last month’s conflict in eastern Ladakh and Sikkim.
The India-China land dispute is rooted in China’s territorial claims over Arunachal Pradesh, which India rejects. After India controversially stripped long-disputed Kashmir of its 70-year autonomy last year and asserted control over Ladakh, the latter became the new hotspot for border contestation, as India argues that the Chinese-claimed Aksai Chin is part of Ladakh.
According to New Delhi, recent clashes were triggered by Beijing’s infrastructure advancement and deployment of around 2,500 troops to eastern Ladakh. For its part, China claims the confrontation was initiated by India’s construction of a new road near the border.
Expect both sides to commit to de-escalation in today’s meeting, as both New Delhi and Beijing would prefer to prioritise economic recovery. However, even with a short-term de-escalation, the India-China competition for regional hegemony—coupled with the everlasting threat of border clashes—will likely spark more violence in Ladakh in the long-term.
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Esra is an analyst on the Current Developments division and a member of The Daily Brief’s research team. She specialises in political and security issues with a particular focus on the Middle East and North Africa.