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Indian troops man the border. Photo: Faisal Khan/Anadolu Agency via Getty

On a mountain ridge, in darkness, with improvised weapons that appear almost medieval, Indian and Chinese soldiers fought to the death.

Driving the news: They slung stones but not bullets. Many of the casualties — 20 Indian and an unknown number of Chinese — fell to their deaths. They were the first fatalities from combat between India and China in at least 45 years.

  • On one side: India's troops were patrolling an area of the Galwan Valley from which China had agreed to withdraw when they walked into a carefully orchestrated ambush, a senior Indian official claims to The Hindu newspaper.
  • On the other: China claims the Indian soldiers crossed the border and “provoked” its troops.
The history
  • China never accepted its colonial-era border with India, and those tensions turned to war in 1962. China prevailed, and the new status quo became the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • While there have been repeated clashes near the LAC since, both sides have agreed not to use guns to help avoid another war.
  • But competition between the Asian giants has been increasing as China flexes its muscles in the region, including with its Belt and Road initiative, and as India moves closer to the U.S.
What’s next
  • Indian media and public opinion are in an uproar, but while Prime Minister Narendra Modi has vowed the soldiers did not die “in vain,” the government's messaging has been restrained.
  • China, meanwhile, has said little through officials or state media. The instinct on both sides seems to be de-escalation.

What to watch: After the biggest crisis in decades, though, “Sini-Indian relations can never go back to the old normal,”says Ashley Tellis of the Carnegie Endowment. “They will reset with greater competitiveness and in ways that neither country had actually intended at the beginning of this crisis.”

Go deeper

Sep 15, 2020 - Health

CDC: Roughly 75% of children who die from COVID-19 are minorities

Students wearing masks walk around the Boston College Campus in Newton, Mass., on Sept. 14. Photo: Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The coronavirus killed at least 121 people under 21 years old across the U.S. between Feb. 12 and July 31, according to a study published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: Of those young people, roughly 3 in 4 were Hispanic, Black, American Indian or Alaska Natives, suggesting the virus is disproportionately killing young people of color, and especially those with underlying health conditions.

Journalism enters dangerous new era

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Capitol attack on Jan. 6 resulted in at least nine physical assaults against journalists and at least five arrests, per the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker's top editor.

Why it matters: President Trump's harsh rhetoric towards the press has empowered leaders abroad and locally in the U.S. to continue to attack press that they don't like.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The beginning of the beginning for Biden's climate push

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Joe Biden's inauguration and the days right after will bring a rat-tat-tat burst of climate policy moves, but keep this in mind amid the splashy pledges: pushing through most of his agenda will be a long, uncertain slog.

Why it matters: Biden's climate plan is far more expansive than anything contemplated under President Obama. But for all the immediate pledges, it will take years to see how far Biden gets.