Daily Memo: Making Sense of India, China and North Korea

There are relatively simple explanations for the strange developments out of Asia today.

Actual deaths on the Line of Actual Control. Violent clashes broke out Monday in the Galwan Valley, a disputed area in the Himalayas on the border of India and China. Three Indian soldiers were killed when, according to China’s Foreign Ministry, they crossed into Chinese territory. India, of course, denied the claim. Details about the incident are unclear. What we do know is that China and India have been engaged in a border standoff since the end of May. Since then, there have been multiple skirmishes followed by attempts to calm down. Remarkably, these are the first fatalities in the area (along what’s known as the Line of Actual Control) in more than 40 years — a period marked by repeated low-level clashes between the Indian and Chinese militaries. This speaks to the inherent difficulty of conducting major combat operations in one of the world’s most extreme geographic environments and the success Beijing and New Delhi have had in keeping small-scale incidents between them from escalating. (Troops stationed along the Line of Actual Control typically do not carry firearms, per protocols agreed upon by both sides.) But even before Monday’s incident, there were signs that things were starting to change. […]

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