Updated Jan 23, 2018

Face-off between Asia's nuclear giants raises new fears

Indian Navy submarine in the Bay of Bengal. Photo: STR / AFP / Getty Images

China and India have a long history of border disputes, most of them reasonably managed until last year’s standoff over Chinese road construction in the disputed territory of Doklam, which prompted an Indian military response.

Both states surprisingly asserted readiness for open conflict, and Beijing told Western ambassadors that its patience "was not indefinite” in refraining from the use of force. While this episode was mutually de-escalated, it has triggered more aggressive stances in subsequent interactions.

The Indian Army Chief has since called for developing military infrastructure in a new area of the border. And just three weeks ago, Chinese forces attempted to construct a road that cut into a new part of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, before having their equipment confiscated by Indian troops.

Most worryingly, the Doklam episode may have prompted Indian nuclear preparations, a response hard to see as proportionate to a localized, nonviolent border standoff. A new report revealed that, during the crisis, Indian leaders ordered submarines "flushed" — sent out to sea en masse — to defend against a potential Chinese naval attack. They were also specifically briefed on the deployment availability of India's Arihant nuclear-armed submarine. Had the boat not been under repair, it likely would have been launched, sending potential nuclear warning signals to Beijing.

Why it matters: Deteriorating mutual trust has set the stage for more crises. As the stakes rise — with potential nuclear implications — the Trump administration must prepare contingency plans for future crises.

Frank O’Donnell is a Stanton Nuclear Security Junior Faculty Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center and a nonresident fellow in the Stimson Center’s South Asia Program.

Go deeper

Teenager killed after shots fired at protesters in Detroit

Detroit police during protests on Friday night. Photo: Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images

A 19-year-old man was killed on Friday night after shots were fired into a crowd of demonstrators in downtown Detroit who were protesting the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, per AP.

Details: The teenager was injured when shots were fired from an SUV about 11:30 p.m. and later died in hospital, reports MDN reports, which noted police were still looking for a suspect. Police said officers were not involved in the shooting, according to AP.

Go deeper: In photos: Protesters clash with police nationwide over George Floyd

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: Protesters clash with police nationwide over George Floyd

Police officers grapple with protesters in Atlanta. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Police used tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray as the protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd spread nationwide on Friday evening.

The big picture: Police responded in force in cities ranging from Atlanta to Des Moines, Houston to Detroit, Milwaukee to D.C. and Denver to Louisville. In Los Angeles, police declared a stretch of downtown off limits, with Oakland issuing a similar warning.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court sides with California on coronavirus worship service rules

The Supreme Court has ruled 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the court's liberal justices, to reject a challenge to California's pandemic restrictions on worship services.

Why it matters: This is a setback for those seeking to speed the reopening of houses of worship, including President Trump.