Sino-Indian Clash

Sino-Indian Clash

A Sino-Indian clash resulting from escalation of a territorial dispute and/or a military incident


The geostrategic rivalry between China and India has exacerbated tensions over the longstanding border dispute. The 2,400 mile Line of Actual Control (LAC), which delineated an informal cease-fire following the war of 1962, now serves as the de facto border between India and Tibet.

However, India and China continue to dispute Aksai Chin—a virtually uninhabited area between Chinese Xinjiang and Indian-administered Kashmir—and the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, claimed by China as South Tibet. China’s extensive air and rail infrastructure buildup in Tibet has enabled recurrent military incursions into Indian-claimed territory. In April 2013, a Chinese encroachment in Ladakh, near Aksai Chin, prompted a three-week military standoff.

Seeking to avert a military incident between border forces, Beijing and New Delhi signed a defense cooperation agreement in October 2013, resolving to share information about military exercises and practice restraint in the event of a confrontation in disputed areas. India’s newly-elected prime minister, Narendra Modi, has a taken a strong position on the border dispute, forcefully pressing Chinese President Xi Jinping to clarify the LAC during a September 2014 bilateral summit.

Other pressures on Sino-Indian relations—including China’s close military and nuclear ties to Pakistan, an expanded Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean, and India’s open criticism of China’s Tibet policy—could enhance the possibility of a militarized flare-up along the border.

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