By Reflectionsbyprajakta - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

A Crisis at the Remote Border Between India and China

UPDATE: At least twenty Indian soldiers were killed in a confrontation with Chinese soldiers in a remote border region in the Himalayas.  Though there have been confrontations between Indian and Chinese soldiers in the past, none in recent times resulted in any deaths. The exact circumstances of this incident remain sketchy, but we know it occurred along the Line of Control, which is a border region disputed by the two regional powers. This deadly confrontation comes just weeks after a massive brawl between Indian and Chinese soldiers lead to the mobilization of artillery and heavy weaponry on both sides.

On Monday, an episode of the Global Dispatches Podcast took a deep dive into the India-China border dispute.  

Original Post

In late May a confrontation between Indian and Chinese soldiers in a remote border region of the Himalayas descended into what appears to be a massive fistfight. Most accounts describe a giant brawl between as many as 100 soldiers with no shots fired and no deaths. But soon after the fight, India and China mobilized heavy guns and artillery to the region threatening a major escalation of hostilities between two regional heavyweights.

Since then, tensions seemed to have eased between the two countries. Still, this incident underscores the very tense relationship between India and China and the very tenuous situation concerning India and China’s border.

On the line to explain this mini-crisis between India and China is Michael Kugelman. He is the senior associate for South Asia and Asia program deputy director at the Woodrow Wilson Center. We kick off discussing what exactly happened in Ladakh, the border region where the fight occurred. We then have a conversation about what this incident says about India, China, and the relationship between the two.  


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Michael Kugelman is the Asia Program Deputy Director and Senior Associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center, where he is responsible for research, programming, and publications on the region. His main specialty is Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan and U.S. relations with each of them. Mr. Kugelman writes monthly columns for Foreign Policy’s South Asia Channel and monthly commentaries for War on the Rocks. He also contributes regular pieces to the Wall Street Journal’s Think Tank blog. He has published op-eds and commentaries in the New York TimesLos Angeles TimesPolitico,, Bloomberg View, The Diplomat, Al Jazeera, and The National Interest, among others. He has been interviewed by numerous major media outlets including the New York TimesWashington PostFinancial TimesGuardianChristian Science MonitorNational Geographic, BBC, CNN, NPR, and Voice of America. He has also produced a number of longer publications on South Asia, including the edited volumes Pakistan’s Interminable Energy Crisis: Is There Any Way Out? (Wilson Center, 2015), Pakistan’s Runaway Urbanization: What Can Be Done? (Wilson Center, 2014), and India’s Contemporary Security Challenges (Wilson Center, 2013). He has published policy briefs, journal articles, and book chapters on issues ranging from Pakistani youth and social media to India’s energy security strategy and transboundary water management in South Asia. Mr. Kugelman received his M.A. in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. He received his B.A. from American University’s School of International Service. Follow him on Twitter @michaelkugelman