India and China: Behind the Conflict: The two most populous countries in the world are battling over a border, but it’s really about energy and water. | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

India and China: Behind the Conflict: The two most populous countries in the world are battling over a border, but it’s really about energy and water.

Chinese and Indian forces have pulled back from their confrontation in the Himalayas, but the tensions that set off the deadly encounter this past June – the first on the China/India border since 1975 – are not going away. Indeed, a poisonous combination of local disputes, regional antagonisms, and colonial history could pose a serious danger to peace in South Asia.

In part, the problem is Britain’s colonial legacy. The “border” in dispute is an arbitrary line drawn across terrain that doesn’t lend itself to clear boundaries. The architect, Henry McMahon, drew it to maximize British control of a region that was in play during the nineteenth-century “Great Game” between England and Russia for control of Central Asia. Local concerns were irrelevant.

The treaty was signed between Tibet and Britain in 1914. Although India accepts the 550-mile McMahon Line as the border between Indian and China, the Chinese have never recognized the boundary.

Mortimer Durand, Britain’s lead colonial officer in India, drew a similar “border” in 1893 between Pakistan (then India’s “Northern Territories”) and Afghanistan that Kabul has never accepted, and which is still the source of friction between the two countries. Colonialism may be gone, but its effects still linger.

Although the target for the McMahon Line was Russia, it has always been a sore spot for China, not only because Beijing’s protests were ignored, but also because the Chinese saw it as a potential security risk for its western provinces.

England had already humiliated China in the two Opium Wars as well as by seizing Shanghai and Hong Kong. If it could lop off Tibet – which China sees as part of its empire – so might another country: Like India

Webmaster's Commentary: 

Let us hope that some "Adults in the Room" of geopolitics can get tensions ratcheted down, before something truly even more ugly than what has happened this year, happens again, and from which there will be no backing down by either side.

And there is a companion story, also at antiwar.com, with the following headline:

The Standoff with Chine will be Long, warns a pulled Indian statement.

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