China and India are in the midst of a potentially volatile border dispute centering on just 34 square miles and an unpaved road. Last month, Indian troops confronted Chinese workers trying to extend a road in a contested area known as the Doklam Plateau at the point where China, India, and Indian ally Bhutan meet. Both Bhutan and China have a claim to the area because of an ambiguous 1890 border agreement. China has vowed to avoid talks until Indian forces withdraw, but India isn't backing down, bringing the two countries, both of which have nuclear weapons, "near the brink of conflict," reports the New York Times. The latest:
- The advantage: Experts say China has the upper hand because of the strength of its armed forces, per Bloomberg. And it apparently knows it. Addressing India, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says the solution is "very simple. That is, behave yourself and humbly retreat."
- The road ahead: A scholar at the American Foreign Policy Council sees similarities between this border dispute and another that led to war between China and India in 1962. He tells the Times that while a negotiated settlement is most likely, war is possible.
- Veiled threats: Editorials appearing in Chinese state-owned media have stressed China's victory in the 1962 Sino-Indian War. One published in the Global Times notes India "will suffer greater losses than in 1962 if it incites military conflicts."
- India's response: While New Delhi is holding strong, the Times of India notes "the stridency of Chinese rhetoric has been progressively matched by an equally conciliatory tone by India."
- 'Chicken neck': India's problem is that an armed conflict could result in China taking control of a strip of land near the disputed area, which connects India to its northern territories. The Times notes the loss of this land, known as the "chicken neck," would mean "cutting off 45 million Indians and an area the size of the United Kingdom."
- Suspected US involvement: An editorial in China's Global Times suggests Washington is "instigating a military clash between China and India, from which they can seek strategic benefits at no cost to themselves," per the Times of India.
- A resolution in the works? A top Indian official met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Friday as part of a larger meeting with representatives from other countries, reports NDTV. It isn't clear what was discussed.
(Read more border dispute