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China’s salami strategy in the Himalayan region

China’s salami strategy in the Himalayan region

Encouraged by its cost-effective expansion in the South China Sea, the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government has intensified its efforts to replicate a similar model in the Himalayas.

Specifically, China is actively constructing numerous new settlements in disputed border regions to extend or solidify its control over strategically vital areas that India, Bhutan, and Nepal assert belong within their respective national boundaries.

Highlighting the strategic significance of China’s endeavors to populate these desolate and uninhabited border areas is its substantial development of new military infrastructure in the region. These fresh installations encompass a wide range, from electronic warfare stations and air defense sites to underground ammunition depots.

China’s newly established border villages in the Himalayas can be likened to the artificially created islands in the South China Sea, where Xi’s government has redrawn the geopolitical landscape without resorting to armed conflict. The expansionism in the South China Sea was propelled by China through asymmetrical or hybrid warfare, conducted below the threshold of open armed hostilities.

This approach blends conventional and irregular tactics with gradual encroachments on territorial claims (often referred to as “salami slicing”), psychological manipulation, disinformation campaigns, legal maneuvers, and coercive diplomacy.

Now, China is applying a similar playbook in the Himalayan border regions.

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