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

Indian submarine at sea
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.