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Two years ago, in sub-freezing temperatures and under cover of darkness, Chinese soldiers entered the high-altitude Galwan Valley. They attacked a contingent of Indian soldiers with homemade weapons including iron rods wrapped in barbed wire and wooden sticks wrapped in barbed wire. Medieval, hand-to-hand combat lasted six hours.

When the brutal riots ended, 20 Indian soldiers had been killed and, according to Indian media, more than 40 Chinese PLA soldiers had died. Although China has not officially released its death toll, the incident is considered the deadliest conflict between the two nuclear neighbors since 1975.

A man holds a picture of Chinese President Xi Jinping after an Indian soldier was killed in a deadly border clash with Chinese troops in Ahmedabad, India, on June 16, 2020.  (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

A man holds a picture of Chinese President Xi Jinping after an Indian soldier was killed in a deadly border clash with Chinese troops in Ahmedabad, India, on June 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

Had both sides not respected a decades-old agreement banning the use of firearms along disputed border areas that refer to the Line of Actual Control, the consequences — on the battlefield and globally — could have been far worse.

After the attack, New Delhi issued a series of reprisals, including banning Chinese apps from Indian app stores. With India fast approaching 1 billion smartphone users, this was a major shock to the Chinese tech community. It also serves as a savvy national security move as it destroys China’s ability to mine personal and biometric data of Indian citizens.

India, China start blame game after 20 killed in border skirmish

For its part, the United States sought a tool that could help bolster its growing security partnership with India — not through fighter jets and missile systems, but by allowing the Indian military to provide cold-weather gear. to “overwinter” in the Galwan Valley, thereby hindering any future attempts by Beijing to encroach and occupy India’s sovereign territory uncontested.

Indians burn pictures of Chinese President Xi Jinping during a protest against the Chinese government in Jammu, India, June 2020.  (AP)

Indians burn pictures of Chinese President Xi Jinping during a protest against the Chinese government in Jammu, India, June 2020. (AP)

While researching my thriller “Rising Tiger” I was struck not only by the brutality of the Galwan Valley attack, but also by China’s ongoing attempts to put a proverbial noose around India’s neck, its territorial incursions into Bhutan, its expansion. Its sphere of influence through the Belt and Road Initiative in Pakistan and a network of commercial and military facilities known as the String of Pearls across the Indian Ocean.

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As the world’s largest democracy, India is a natural ally of the world’s oldest, the United States. From our supply chain (which is heavily dependent on China) to military cooperation, the US could benefit greatly from a formal alliance with India.

In fact, with Chinese economic and military expansionism on the rise, now is the time to move beyond the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue of Australia, India, Japan and the United States to a stronger, more authoritative body.

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With an Asian version of NATO at the center of my upcoming thriller, and thereby fiction, how long can we let this idea remain? As the Chinese proverb says, “Time is worth an inch of gold, but an inch of time cannot be bought for an inch of gold.”

Beijing’s ambitions are plain to see. We should invest our time and gold accordingly. As an Indian proverb says, “Life is not a succession of pleasant choices, but of inevitable problems that require strength, determination and hard work.” It is time we as a nation get to work.

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