ASIA - The violent dispute between India and China puts the "Asian pax" at risk

Friday, 19 June 2020 politics   international politics   economy   wars   peace  

New Delhi (Agenzia Fides) - High tension between India and China in Kashmir: the first violent clash between the two armies for almost 50 years has triggered a "red alert" in the confrontation between the two Asian powers. On the night of June 15 in the Himalayas in the Galwan Valley, over 4 thousand meters high along the "Line of Actual Control" (LAC) which marks the border between India and China, violent clashes between the soldiers of the two countries led to a still uncertain toll of over 80 Indian soldiers killed (including a Catholic soldier from the state of Odisha) and some missing. Beijing has not provided details but, according to the Delhi Ministry of Defense, about 300 Chinese soldiers were reportedly injured or killed. The tough face-to-face began in May on the Himalayan peaks, which has always been the scene of tension for the Kashmir issue and for the never dormant border claims between India and China. Despite the declarations which, on both sides, claim to bring the matter within the context of a peaceful resolution of the dispute, through diplomatic channels, tension remains high. And it risks increasing also in the tense relations between Delhi and Islamabad, an ally of Beijing.
Behind the clash there are many factors that concern not only the borders in the disputed region of Kahsmir, but the confrontation between two great world powers. With Premier Narendra Modi, India broke up a free trade agreement between Asian countries in November 2019. We are talking about the "regional global economic partnership" proposed in the Indo-Pacific region by the ten states of Southeast Asia (those part of ASEAN) with Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and India. Fear of the movement of cheap Chinese goods on the Indian market prompted Delhi to blow up the deal. The specter now returns, as the Indian analyst Barkha Dutt, author of "This Unquiet Land: Stories from India's Fault Lines", wrote on the "Washington Post", commenting on the border clashes: "India's trade deficit with China is 53 billion dollars ... it is suicidal to allow China to have free access to Indian markets and consumers, while it builds roads and infrastructure through the parts of Kashmir occupied by Pakistan".
In Pakistan, caution prevails but an editorial in the newspaper "The Dawn" of June 18 clarifies how they see it in Islamabad: "Unfortunately, India has a history of bullying its neighbors and tries to be a regional hegemonic actor. Pakistan has long stressed the need to address the Kashmir issue at the negotiating table, a position that India has arrogantly rejected".
A conflict between China and India does not, of course, only have regional consequences. If it touches neighbors like Pakistan, it is also part of the "big international game" and it is not difficult to understand how the United States can bring the matter back into the "cold war", especially commercial, with Beijing.
The incident is of concern across Asia, as Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore wrote in early June in the magazine Foreign Affairs: "Asia has thrived - he writes - because the 'American Pax' since the end of the Second World War has provided a favorable strategic context. But now, the troubled relationship between the United States and China raises profound questions about the future of Asia and the shape of the emerging international order". (MG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 19/6/2020)