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David Fickling

The Most Troubling China-India Conflict Is Economic

Dwindling trade between Asia’s giants removes a restraint on military escalation.

More trade would make better neighbors.

More trade would make better neighbors.

Photographer: Faisal Khan/Anadolu Agency/Getty

What’s worse than two populous, nuclear-armed countries killing each other’s soldiers? Two populous, nuclear-armed countries letting their longer-term relationship wither.

Fighting along the Chinese-Indian border on the Tibetan plateau hasn’t come out of the blue. Ties, never solid, are increasingly becoming a casualty of the way New Delhi is being drawn into the wider rivalry between Beijing and Washington. If trade and investment suffer as a result, the deteriorating relationship could lead to problems decades down the line.