Throughout this summer, tensions have been rising in the Himalayas. It is not only Hong Kong and Xinjiang that have encountered the increasing belligerence of the Chinese Communist Party. The Himalayas have also borne witness to China’s ever more aggressive expansionism. Earlier this year, Chinese forces brawled with Indian troops in the disputed Galwan Valley in Ladakh, leaving scores dead on both sides. The Chinese, according to Indian reports, sidestepped the convention that border confrontations should avoid shooting by resorting to clubs studded with iron spikes. In July, China made an unprecedented claim to over 10 per cent of Bhutanese sovereign territory in an attempt to coerce the surrender of various strategic frontier territories.
Two new books are timely reminders of what is at stake in the Himalayas, not just in terms of geopolitics but also in terms of the region’s culture and environment, and its people’s welfare. The first, Himalaya, offers a panoramic history of the region, from its earliest inhabitation by humans