Earlier this month, the Indian army stationed on a remote Himalayan plateau built a small observation hut from where they could watch Chinese soldiers across a disputed border.
The move so irked China's military that it laid a road on territory claimed by India and demanded that the tin hut be dismantled. India refused, destroyed a part of the new road and promptly raised troop numbers in the area.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is making good on election promises of a more robust national security policy, and the fact that around 1,000 soldiers from each side are facing off in Ladakh is evidence even mighty China is not off limits.
No shots have been fired, and a brief border war between the world's two most populous nations was fought 52 years ago.
But Indian military officials said the situation in the Chumar area of Ladakh had been unusually tense in recent weeks, highlighting a simmering disagreement between the nuclear-armed neighbors that is back on the agenda at the highest level.
Modi, a nationalist who swept to power in May, was unusually forthright when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited India in mid-September, challenging Xi in private on the question of incursions along their 3,500-kilometer contested frontier.
Afterwards, he told a news conference in the presence of the Chinese leader that peace and stability on the border were needed for better economic ties Beijing has been pressing for.
P. Stobdan, a former Indian ambassador and a Ladakhi with deep knowledge of the competing claims in the region, sees a shift in New Delhi's thinking.
"The hut has become the bone of contention. The Chinese have drawn a red line. They want it demolished before they will withdraw," he said.
Last year, the Chinese forced the Indians to demolish another hut in Chumar in return for ending a face-off.
"This time the new government does not seem to be in a mood to budge," Stobdan added.
No longer business as usual
Beginning in June, as it prepared to receive Xi, Modi's government set in train a series of bold actions on the border where Indian officials say China has long been nibbling away at its territory.