Chinese incursions, now and then
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Issue Vol 24.4 Oct-Dec2009 | Date : 28 Jan , 2011


  1. In particular ‘The Agreement Between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on Confidence-Building Measures in the Military Field Along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas‘ signed November 29, 1996.
  2. Or Agreement on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet. It can be read on the author’s website: /uploaded_pics/1951Agreementon Measures forthePeacefulLiberationofTibet.pdf.
  3. Though the Chinese said Tibet was ‘liberated’.
  4. Agreement between The Republic of India and The People’s Republic of China on Trade and Intercourse between Tibet Region of China and India signed on April 29, 1954. Text available on:
  5. As compensation for surrendering India’s rights and privileges inherited from the Simla Convention (1914).
  6. Such a full-fledged mission in Lhasa, three trade marts, a garrison posted in Gyantse, a series of guest houses and the telegraph line to Lhasa.
  7. He however admitted that they were useful for trade.
  8. Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru (hereafter SWJN), Series II, Vol. 16-2. Letters to Chief Ministers, October 1951, p. 726.
  9. Starvation appeared for the first time in Tibet.
  10. SWJN, Series II, Vol. 18, Press conference of 21 June 1952, p. 471.
  11. Downgrading meant that Tibet had no more an independent foreign policy, the prerogative of an independent State and had therefore become a region (or province) of China.
  12. Ibid.
  13. SWJN, Series II, Vol. 18, Cable to Panikkar, June 16, 1952, p. 474.
  14. Press conference, New Delhi, 28 February 1952. Press Information Bureau.
  15. UP or United Provinces under the British Raj later became the State of Uttar Pradesh. Since 2000, the northern part of Uttar Pradesh has become the State of Uttarakhand.
  16. SWJN, Series II, Vol. 16 (2), Cable from Panikkar to Nehru, 28 September 1951, p. 643.
  17. SWJN, Series II, Vol. 16 (2), Talk with Loy Henderson, New Delhi. 15 September 1951, p. 627.
  18.  This refers to the Aksai Chin area of Ladakh.
  19. SWJN, Series II, Vol. 16 (2), p. 541.
  20. The Central or State Government, the Survey of India, the Indian Trade Agent in Gartok or the Intelligence Bureau?
  21. Today, if a courageous historian requests the government to declassify this file, he will be quoted Article 8(1)(a) of the Right to Information Act: “there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State”.
  22. In the NEFA.
  23. SWJN, Series II, Vol. 19. p. 651.
  24. Some Tibetans may have been ‘pushed’ by the Chinese into India territory to test the reactions of the Indian authorities. This is still regularly done in Arunachal and Ladakh were Tibetan herders are sent to graze into India.
  25. Mainly towards the frontier south of Tsona in NEFA, Chumbi Valley near Sikkim as well as Western Tibet (UP and Ladakh border).
  26. SWJN, Series II, Vol. 18, Desirability of Friendly Ties with China and Tibet, 12 April 1952, p. 471.
  27. SWJN, Series II, Vol. 21, Need for Check-Posts on U.P.-Tibet Border, MEA, 9 March 1953, p. 308.
  28. SWJN, Series II, Vol. 21, To K.N. Katju, February 13, 1953, p. 305.
  29. It is sad to note that the situation is not very different fifty-five years later.
  30. By that time, Mookerjee had died under mysterious circumstances in Srinagar.
  31. An Independent member from Andhra Pradesh.
  32. SWJN, Series II, Vol. 24, A Realistic Approach to Problems, p. 577.
  33. SWJN, Series II, Vol. 25, Principles of Foreign Policy, p. 391.
  34. Though by that time, Beijing was publishing maps engulfing part of Northern India in the Himalayas. Despite several Indian complaints, the maps were never withdrawn or modified.
  35. Barahoti (Wu-Je for the Chinese) is about one day’s journey from the Niti Pass.
  36. Ministry of External Affairs, Notes, Memoranda and Letters Exchanged and Agreements signed by the Governments of India and China, [known as White Papers] (New Delhi: Publication Division, 14 volumes, 1954-68), White Paper 1 (1954-59), Note given by the counsellor of China in India to the Ministry of External Affairs, 17 July 1954, p. 1.
  37. Ibid, p. 2.
  38. Kaul, T.N., Reminiscences Discreet and Indiscreet (New Delhi: Lancers Publishers, 1982), p. 104.
  39. Lall, John, Aksai Chin and the Sino-Indian Conflict (New Delhi: Allied Publishers, 1988), p. 240.
  40. One should not forget that in 1950 (when Eastern Tibet was invaded), a caravan took two months from the Chinese border to reach Lhasa, the Tibetan capital.
  41. Xinhua News Agency reported on 29 November 1954: “The two large armies of road builders from the eastern and western section of the Sikang-Tibet Highway joined hands on November 27. Sikang-Tibet Highway from Ya-an [capital of the now defunct province of Sikang] to Lhasa is now basically completed.” The communiqué further mentions that “gang builders and workers, including about 20,000 Tibetans, covered over 31,000 li on foot in the summer of 1953 and began construction of the 328 km of highway eastwards from Lhasa.”
  42. Three weeks later, another Chinese report stated: “The Tsinghai-Tibet Highway is now open to traffic. The first vehicles reached Lhasa on the afternoon of December 15. Over 2000 km long, the highway passes through Mongol, Tibetan, Hui and Khazak brother nationality districts, traverses 15 large mountains… crosses 25 rivers, grasslands and basins at an average elevation of over 4,000 meters above sea level.”
  43. A document still marked ‘restricted’ today, but fortunately available on Internet (on in particular).
  44. Khera, S.S. India’s Defense Problem (Bombay, Orient Longmans, 1968), p. 157. Khera probably refers to Jangpandi’s reports.
  45. Mullik B.N., My Years with Nehru – The Chinese Betrayal (Delhi: Allied Publishers, 1971),
  46. pp. 196-97.
  47. On September 1, 1953, Nehru began his letter to the Chinese Premier thus: “It has been a matter of deep satisfaction to me to note the growing cooperation between our great countries in international affairs. I am convinced that this cooperation and friendship will not only be to our mutual advantage, but will also be a strong pillar for peace in Asia and the world”.
  48. SWJN, op. cit., Vol. 23, Cable to Zhou Enlai, September 1, 1953, p. 485.
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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Claude Arpi

Writes regularly on Tibet, China, India and Indo-French relations. He is the author of 1962 and the McMahon Line Saga, Tibet: The Lost Frontier and Dharamshala and Beijing: the negotiations that never were.

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