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The Diplomat Brief
September 23,
The Diplomat Brief
Welcome to the latest issue of Diplomat Brief. This week our top story is the China-India border tensions as viewed from Leh, the capital of Ladakh. We also have an interview on China in Southeast Asia from Diplomat editor Sebastian Strangio.
Story of the week
Voice From the Himalayas Amid Tensions Along the China-India Border


Voice From the Himalayas Amid Tensions Along the China-India Border

What Happened: This summer was the deadliest in four decades for the disputed China-India border in eastern Ladakh, with numerous clashes killing over 20 Indian troops (Chinese casualty counts are unknown). Amid the tensions, the people of Ladakh fear for their future.

Our Focus: “Last year’s lockdown followed by this pandemic has affected our economy a lot. And if there is any crisis around the border, where will we go?” local resident Mohammad Yaqoob told The Diplomat. “They are only concerned about the area, not the people.”

What Comes Next: Negotiations between Chinese and Indian military officers are continuing in an attempt to defuse the situation. But analysts are expecting both sides to dig in for the long haul – and the cold Himalayan winter.

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Behind the News


Sebastian Strangio

Longtime Southeast Asia journalists Sebastian Strangio on the U.S.-China tug of war over Southeast Asia: “The pandemic has thus hastened the erosion of the image of both superpowers, accelerating a trend that was already underway when the pandemic hit.”

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This Week in Asia

Northeast Asia

China’s Vision for the U.N.

As the United Nations General Assembly meets (virtually) this week, Beijing laid out its vision for the international body, particularly through President Xi Jinping’s remarks. China has already been carving out increasingly more influence for itself in the U.N.; renewed competition with the U.S. makes that task all the more urgent.

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South Asia

A New Province in Pakistan?

Recent reports suggest that Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit Gilgit-Baltistan soon and announce it as a new province of the country. But such a decision, guaranteed to irk India, will be made only after weighing several factors.

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Southeast Asia

Malaysia’s Sabah State Votes

On September 26, voters in the Malaysian state of Sabah will go to the polls to elect a new regional government. The state election was triggered following the dramatic resignation of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the collapse of his Pakatan Harapan coalition government in February. The result of the election could offer clues as to which way the political winds are blowing as talk of a snap general election swirls.

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Central Asia

Central Asia Watches Afghanistan

As delegations from the Afghan government and the Taliban continue to work on so-called “rules of negotiations” for a power-sharing deal in Qatar, the states of Central Asia – Uzbekistan most actively – are watching and hoping for a breakthrough.

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Visualizing APAC


Scenes From Thailand’s Massive Protests Demanding Reform

For months, protesters in Thailand have called for reforms. This weekend as many as 100,000 protesters descended on Bangkok.

See the full picture

Protesters shine their mobile phone lights during a musical performance in the late evening hours of September 19, 2020 in Bangkok, Thailand.
— Photo by Cory Wright for The Diplomat.

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Word of the Week


Đổi Mới

Doi moi or “renovation” — The name given to the market-oriented economic reforms Vietnam started in the 1980s. Vietnam’s economic reform process remains a work in progress even as COVID-19 jeopardizes economic stability.

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The Diplomat BriefThe Bell Boeing V-22
US-Taiwan Trade

The Diplomat Magazine | September 2020

US-Taiwan Trade

This month, we explain Europe’s rapidly hardening stance on China in a year that was supposed to represent a high-water mark for the relationship. We also trace the rise and fall of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and its role in global jihad, evaluate Australia’s bold shift on defense in its latest strategic update, and look back at a tumultuous three years in inter-Korean relations. And, of course, we offer a range of reporting, analysis, and opinion from across the region.

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Diplomat Risk Intelligence
The Diplomat Brief