Opinion | Hegemony of china threatens the Asian century
Beijing has committed a strategic blunder by forcing conflict with India
Last week, India and China had a bloody face-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) bordering Ladakh. The unprecedented confrontation led to the martyring of 20 Indian soldiers and injuries to others; though China has not officially admitted to it, the chatter in the global intelligence community is that there were fatalities and injuries on their side, too. This episode fits the pattern of recent acts of aggression by China (like in the South China Sea) to expand its territorial reach; so China is unlikely to be given the benefit of doubt on the charge of forcing this bloody escalation. More worryingly, this tragic loss of lives is probably a tipping point defining the future of Asia. The uneasy relationship between two neighbouring nations with diametrically opposing ideologies—one wedded to the values of democracy, the other to a command-control regime defined by the principle of ends justifying the means—is bound to undergo a reset. The fear is that the contours of this new relationship will be based on confrontation rather than cooperation. The downside risk is that at the least it will lock both countries in a distracting, costly and exhausting low-intensity conflict—like the one India has to endure with its western neighbour (and China ally) Pakistan.