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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

Beijing Olympics: These countries have announced diplomatic boycotts

Photo: Zhang Qiang/VCG via Getty Images

Several countries, including Canada and Australia, have announced they will join the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics to protest human rights abuses committed by China's government.

Driving the news: Leaders have faced pressure from human rights groups and others to boycott the Games, pointing to the ongoing genocide of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China's Xinjiang region and other abuses.

Biden directs federal government to become carbon neutral by 2050

President Biden speaking to reporters outside of the White House on Dec. 8.

President Biden signed an executive order Wednesday that requires the federal government achieve multiple goals related to reducing its carbon emissions, including achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Why it matters: Meeting the objectives of the order would require a massive investment by the federal government to buy electric vehicles, upgrade buildings and change how it procures electricity.

Updated 2 hours ago - Technology

Instagram's boss faces Congress' questions on harm to teens

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for WIRED

The head of Instagram will find himself in Congress' crosshairs for the first time Wednesday in the one area lawmakers have shown they are willing to pass tech regulations — protecting youngsters online.

Why it matters: Republicans and Democrats have found common ground in grilling tech companies on how their products harm children, especially after revelations in The Wall Street Journal about Instagram's potential harm to the mental health of teen girls.