On Monday, 20 Indian soldiers were killed during a fight with Chinese soldiers on the China-India border. Several border conflicts over the last month have raised tensions between the two countries to the highest level since 1967.
China and India have the two largest populations in the world. Both countries also have very large and advanced armies. And they share a border that is over 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) long. The land along the border is high in the mountains and far away from cities, but it is still important to both countries.
But for a huge section of this border, the two governments can’t agree on where the line separating the two countries is. Both sides claim much of the same land along the border. The disagreement goes back for decades.
In 1962, China and India actually went to war over the border. In June, 1962, China attacked India along the border, defeating Indian soldiers, and pushing through to where China believed the border should really be. India wasn’t expecting the attack.
As a result of the 1962 war, though the countries still don’t agree on the border, both sides are using the “Line of Actual Control” (LAC) as a temporary border. That gave China much of the land it wanted because it was in control of it.
But the Line of Actual Control isn’t a clear line, and there is still plenty of disagreement about who controls what. Since 1962, there have been several disagreements and conflicts.
The current conflict started in May. India has been building a road to an air force base on its land in the area. Over the last month, Chinese soldiers interfered with Indian soldiers at several points along the border, starting fights.
Though there was no shooting, the fights became quite violent, with the soldiers using rocks and clubs in addition to their fists.
In response, both sides have sent thousands of soldiers to the area. China has actually taken over about 250 square miles (650 square kilometers) of land on the Indian side of the LAC, and moved in a lot of equipment.
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The fight on Monday night was reported to involve as many as 600 soldiers. Twenty Indian soldiers, including at least one officer, were reported dead. Many others on both sides were injured.
Both sides are calling for a meeting of high-level generals from both armies in an attempt to calm things down.
Experts see the border violence as part of a pattern for China, which has claimed many areas in Asia which other countries also claim. China has pushed boldly to take control in many of these spots.
Most people believe that neither side actually wants a war, but because of the violence and high number of deaths, it will be difficult to lower the tension between the countries. Since China’s military is far stronger than India’s, the Indian government will have to think carefully about how it responds.
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