China asks India to back off . . .
On June 20, Indian and Chinese forces clashed in the Galwan Valley in a remote and mountainous region separating the two nuclear armed neighbours. There were multiple casualties, although exact numbers remain unclear. The border standoff that began in May seems to have been the result of a disagreement about the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the valley, a dispute that goes back to the 1962 Indo-China War in which China captured territory in the region a few kilometres east of the Galwan Estuary. Beijing now says that the LAC lies at the estuary itself and has asked India to withdraw from the valley. Delhi has vehemently opposed the claim.
India responds with reforms . . .
The India-China relationship has been in a downward spiral for quite some time. In April, India amended its foreign direct investment policy to counter foreign takeovers of domestic firms hit hard by COVID-19, which directly affects Chinese investments. In another move, Delhi recently made it mandatory for suppliers to the government’s online marketplace portal to identify products’ country of origin. That move appears to have come in response to a public call for a boycott of Chinese goods and services in retaliation for the border skirmish. Delhi previously decided to stop the use of Chinese equipment in its wireless network upgrades and booted a Chinese firm from a large railway contract.
Enter Pakistan . . .
Meanwhile, Pakistan, India’s other nuclear neighbour on its northern border, is maintaining strong support for China in this disagreement. In a new series of incidents this month, India has asked Pakistan to reduce its high commission staff to half, offering that India do the same in Islamabad. This demand comes after India expelled two Pakistani staffers three weeks ago accusing them of espionage, and recently claimed that Pakistan mistreated two Indian staffers in Islamabad. Pakistan has meanwhile alleged that India’s actions are nothing but a distraction from the India-China border skirmishes. India’s relations with its northern neighbours are at a decidedly low, and dangerous, ebb.