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The Chinese Dragon Breathing Down India's Chicken Neck

Geopolitical and historical intrigue could lead to war-mongering along the Indian-Chinese border, but an open conflict is highly unlikely.

India's 'chicken's neck'
India's "chicken's neck"
Alaric Moras

Just a passing glance at a map of Asia, and you can't miss the contours of the more than 4,000-kilometer-long border between India and China, the world's two most populous countries. But it may require a closer look at that same map to see what is commonly dubbed: the "Chicken's Neck" of India.

This narrow stretch of land (less than 27-km-wide at one point) is formally known as the Siliguri Corridor, and lies in the state of West Bengal, connecting India's northeastern states to the rest of the country. It was created in 1947 after the partition of Bengal between India and Pakistan, and today is surrounded by the countries of Nepal and Bangladesh, and the tiny kingdom of Bhutan.

But today the Chicken Neck is back in the headlines because of China. This most vulnerable point in India's geography appears to have pushed Delhi's unusually aggressive move in Dok La, a region comprising Bhutan and China's disputed land border: On June 16th, Indian soldiers formed a human chain in the area, preventing Chinese incursion into the territory for road construction.

Soldiers of both armies have now pitched tents opposite each other, effectively creating a military standoff, as India and China face their deepest conflict since their month-long war in 1962.

The Chicken Neck (Siliguri Corridor) in red — Wikipedia

Asian geopolitics are never simple to understand: in this case, border tensions between Bhutan and China have led to a face-off between China and India. Authorities in Delhi claim to be acting in Bhutan's best interests, and with its consent, but there is more to the standoff than meets the eye. The presence of Chinese troops in the Dok La region would make it easy for China to take control of the corridor, and as a consequence isolate all of northeast India from the rest of the country.

But the more relevant question may be: Why now? Beyond the factors on the ground are the men in charge. The countries' current leaders, Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi, have each made it clear that they want to exert their influence beyond their respective borders. Xi has been busy flexing his muscles in the South China Sea, across the straits, and now, even in Africa.

Meanwhile, Modi, unlike his predecessors, has taken more hawkish stance with countries such as Pakistan and Nepal — most often to his detriment.

While previous leaders for the two countries have avoided open conflict for more than 40 years, the current territorial skirmishes, coupled with the leaders' global ambitions, begs the question of how much longer this peace will last.

Siliguri, India — Photo: Sayantani

Still, even as both sides declare their preparedness for war, it remains a highly unlikely outcome. Even as Bhutan remains sandwiched between the two countries, with China constantly threatening to make it a vassal state, it is hard to imagine the two continental powers going to war over a border conflict in the tiny Asian kingdom.

Though the two sides are currently showing no signs of backing down, neither Beijing nor Delhi are likely to let the situation degenerate to that point. The reason is simple: even more than global muscle-flexing, both China and India will do everything in their power in the pursuit of economic growth.

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Poland Elections: I'm Catholic, And Will Never Vote For The Ruling Catholic Party

In this editorial for Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, former Polish Senator, Solidarność activist, Member of Parliament, and Environmental Minister Antoni Tokarczuk examines what he calls the “true motivations” of ruling party Law and Justice leader Jarosław Kaczyński, and warns against his use of the Church for his party’s gain, especially ahead of the upcoming Parliamentary elections.

Close up on a hand putting a vote in a ballot box, with the Polish flag as backdrop

Voting in Poland,

Antoni Tokarczuk


WARSAW — I had the opportunity to get to know Law and Justice leader Jarosław Kaczyński, and what really motivates his political candidacy — and the real reasons are far different than those he claims in order to pull the wool over the eyes of the Polish public.

I’m writing about this topic as a graduate of sociology from the Department of Christian Philosophy from the Catholic University of Lublin, and a currently practicing Catholic, but also as a former social and political activist, with extensive personal experience in the public arena. I was, among other things, a co-founder and member of the highest authorities of the first branch of the Solidarność ("Solidarity") movement and a participant in its underground activities, after martial law was introduced in Poland. Later, I continued my political work as a senator, Member of Parliament and as Poland’s Minister of the Environment.

But, perhaps the most important point in all of this, is that I happened to be the deputy president of the now-defunct Christian Democratic Center Agreement ("Porozumienie Centrum") political party, and Kaczyński’s direct successor at a time when he suspended his political activity. Therefore, I had a great opportunity to get to know the current Law and Justice (PiS) leader in depth.

Through this, I discovered his true approach to values and moral principles, rather than those created out of his own political calculation. As a result, I cut all contact and collaborative efforts with him, both as a politician, and as a person.

For over 20 years, I have not actively participated in the political life of this country. In this current moment, which will be a vital one on the path to Poland's future, I feel a moral imperative to speak publicly on the issue in question.

I do not want to speak as a politician, but rather as a person who is categorically opposed to the instrumental, nefarious use of the Catholic religion and its institutions for the party’s unbridled ambitions and lust for power. I am opposing the unauthorized appropriation of a religious banner, which calls itself the “only Catholic party” in order to cover up its true activities, which are in fact contrary to the essence of Christianity.

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