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Two years ago, in freezing temperatures and under cover of darkness, Chinese soldiers slipped into the upper Galwan Valley. Armed with homemade weapons, including spike-studded iron rods and wooden clubs wrapped in barbed wire, they attacked a contingent of Indian soldiers. Medieval hand-to-hand combat lasted six hours.
By the end of the brutal melee, 20 Indian soldiers had been killed and, according to Indian media, more than 40 Chinese PLA soldiers were dead. Although China has never officially released the number of its casualties, the event is considered the deadliest clash between the two nuclear neighbors since 1975.
Had the two sides failed to uphold the decades-long agreement prohibiting the use of firearms along the disputed border area known as the Line of Effective Control, the outcome – both on the battlefield and on the world stage – could have been much worse.
In the aftermath of the attack, New Delhi launched a series of retaliatory measures, including banning Chinese apps from the Indian app store. With India rapidly approaching one billion smartphone users, this was a blow to the Chinese tech community. It also served as a savvy national security measure, as it eroded China’s ability to mine the personal and biometric data of Indian citizens.
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For its part, the United States quickly identified a means by which it could help bolster its growing security partnership with India – not through combat aircraft and missile systems, but rather by providing a wide range of cold-weather equipment, allowing the Indian army to “winter” in the Galwan Valley, thus hampering any future attempts by Beijing to violate and seize Indian sovereign territory unchallenged.
While researching my thriller, “Rising Tiger”, I was shocked not only by the savagery of the Galwan Valley attack, but also by China’s continued efforts to slip a proverbial noose around the neck of the India through its territorial incursions in Bhutan, the expansion of its sphere of influence via its Belt and Road initiative in Pakistan, and its network of commercial and military installations across the Indian Ocean known as the String of Pearls.
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India, as the largest democracy in the world, is a natural ally for the United States, the oldest in the world. From our supply chain (which is far too dependent on China) to military cooperation, America can benefit a lot from a formal alliance with India.
In fact, as Chinese economic and military expansionism continues to grow, now is the time to move from the quadrilateral security dialogue between Australia, India, Japan and the United States to a more robust formal organization. .
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With an Asian version of NATO at the heart of my upcoming thriller, and therefore fiction, how much longer can we afford to leave the idea as it is? As the Chinese saying goes, “An inch of time is an inch of gold, but an inch of time cannot be bought for an inch of gold.”
Beijing’s ambitions are obvious to everyone. We must invest our time and gold accordingly. As the Indian proverb says, “Life is not a continuum of pleasant choices, but of inevitable problems that require strength, determination and hard work.” It is high time that we as a nation got to work.
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