The "piecemeal third world war" denounced by Pope Francis is increasingly taking shape. A South Korean official was killed by the Pyongyang border forces. High tension along the Sino-Indian border: An Indian paramilitary of Tibetan origin has died. Clashes over fishing rights in the South China Sea.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The "frozen" conflicts in Asia are increasingly taking the form of real armed clashes, with dead and wounded, as already denounced by Pope Francis, speaking of "a piecemeal third world war ".
The South Korean Ministry of Defense reported today that a civilian official from the Department of Oceans and Fisheries was killed by North Korean border soldiers. The two Koreas are technically at war; North and South have never signed a peace treaty at the end of the conflict that saw them opposed from 1950 to 1953.
The man was on board a boat that was inspecting the waters near the island of Yeonpyeong, in the Yellow Sea. Seoul authorities suspect that he attempted to defect to the north, swimming on a life preserver towards the border.
Once intercepted, the North Korean special forces would have killed him, then burned his body, later found at sea. According to Southern intelligence, in order to deal with the coronavirus emergency, the military in the North has the order to "shoot to kill" anyone who tries to infiltrate the country.
The other hot front in the Asia-Pacific region is the Himalayan border between China and India. Beijing and Delhi have an open channel to stop military escalation along the provisional border (Line of Actual Control, LAC) that divides the two countries.
The two Asian giants share a 3,488 km border in the rugged Himalayan region, over which they fought a brief but bloody conflict in 1962. Delhi claims large sections of Aksai Chin (which the Chinese obtained from Pakistan); Beijing is staking claims on the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.
Over the past 45 years, the two Armed Forces have clashed several times, with no casualties. At the end of August, however, an Indian soldier belonging to the Tibetan Border Special Forces died of injuries sustained by the explosion of a mine along the LAC. On June 15 Indian and Chinese troops met in the Galwan valley, between Ladakh and Chinese Aksai Chin: 20 Indian soldiers died, along with an unknown number of Chinese soldiers. According to press reports, Beijing has sent its troops in response to the Indian construction of a road along the border.
The South China Sea, where the territorial claims of China are contested by various countries in the area, supported by the US, are also beginning to count the victims. Last month, the Malaysian Coast Guard stopped a Vietnamese fishing boat, killing a fisherman. Fishing rights are one of the issues of contention in contested waters, and not just regarding Chinese activities.