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Two years ago, in low temperatures and under cover of darkness, Chinese soldiers used to pass through the high altitude Galwan Valley. Armed with homemade weapons, which included iron rods studded with spikes and wooden clubs wrapped with barbed wire, they attacked a contingent of Indian soldiers. Medieval, hand-to-hand combat lasted six hours.
When the brutal scuffle ended, 20 Indian soldiers were killed and according to Indian media, more than 40 Chinese PLA soldiers were killed. Although China has never officially released its casualties, the incident is considered the deadliest conflict between the two nuclear neighbors since 1975.
If both sides had not respected a decades-old agreement banning the use of firearms in the disputed border area referred to as the Line of Actual Control, the outcome – both on the battlefield and on the global stage – could have been much worse.
Following the attack, New Delhi issued a series of retaliation, including banning Chinese apps from the Indian App Store. With India rapidly approaching 1 billion smartphone users, this was a significant blow to the Chinese tech community. It also acted as a sensible national security move as it ended China’s ability to mine personal and biometric data of citizens of India.
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For its part, the United States identified a means by which it could help strengthen its growing security partnership with India – not through fighter jets and missile systems, but through a wide array of cold weather gear. By providing the chain, allowing the Indian military to “overwinter” in the Galwan Valley, thereby hindering any future attempts by Beijing to violate and seize Indian sovereign territory unopposed.
While researching my thriller, “Rising Tiger”, I was shocked not only by the barbarism of the Galwan Valley attack, but also by China’s salvo, territorial incursions into Bhutan, through the expansion of India’s neck of a proverbial noose. Was surprised by the efforts made. Its sphere of influence in Pakistan through its Belt and Road Initiative, and its network of commercial and military facilities in the Indian Ocean is known as the String of Pearls.
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India, as the world’s largest democracy, is a natural ally to the world’s oldest United States. From our supply chain (which is heavily dependent on China) to military cooperation, a formal alliance with India can greatly benefit the US.
In fact, as Chinese economic and military expansionism continues to grow, it is time to move beyond the quadrilateral security talks of Australia, India, Japan and the United States to a more robust, authoritative organization.
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While an Asian version of NATO is at the center of my upcoming thriller and thus fantasy, how long can we spend to let this idea remain that way? As the Chinese proverb says, “An inch of time is an inch of gold, but an inch of time cannot be bought for an inch of gold.”
Beijing’s ambition is clear to all. We need to invest our time and our gold accordingly. As the Indian proverb says, “Life is not a continuum of pleasant choices, but of inevitable problems that demand strength, determination and hard work.” The time has come for us to get to work as a nation.
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