“History has not been kind to Himalaya,” writes historian and travel writer John Keay in his latest book Himalaya: Exploring the Roof of the World. The region, nestled between India, China and Central Asia, has long been subject to political and imperial intrigue–and at times violent invasion. But the region also provided a wealth of scientific information, like geographers puzzling over how these tall peaks were thrust upwards by plate tectonics.

“We’ll compete with confidence; we’ll cooperate wherever we can; we’ll contest where we must.” That’s the new China strategy as outlined by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier this year. But just exactly how countries should deal with China—including working with it, when the times call for it—is perhaps the thorniest question in international relations right now, at least in the West.