“It is astonishing that we have never till date asked China to vacate our territory occupied by it in Aksai Chin. We go out of our way, even today, to explain away every Chinese intrusion into our territory on perception difference of the Line of Actual Control.”
History is repeating itself. The two Asian powers are poised to confront each other to find strategic space in Asia and subsequently the world, spurred by their economic growth. At the moment, China appears to have stolen the march over India.
…Nehru flared up, thumped hard on the table and said: “It is not the business of C-in-C to tell the PM who is going to attack us where. In fact the Chinese will defend our NEFA Frontier. You mind only Kashmir and Pakistan”.
Contrary to popular belief, the two great civilizations in Asia – China and India had very little interaction historically. Barring an odd Huen Tsang visiting India or Dr Kotnis going to China much later, the two countries remained largely oblivious to each others existence, and Tibet and Himalayas ensured that. It is in the 19th Century when the British, while ruling India, were engaged in the Great Game against the Russians, Tibet engaged their attention. Far sighted that the British were, they ensured that Tibet remained a buffer zone between China and India. Closer to independence however, for whatever reasons, the British made little effort to demarcate the boundary between Tibet and India and formalize it which they could have easily done, being the supreme world power then. Therefore the boundary dispute between People’s Republic of China and India is a direct result of British unwillingness to resolve the issue to the satisfaction of both India and China.
The Chinese, very early, after becoming a communist nation realized that the only nation in Asia which could challenge them was India and therefore from day one they evolved policies to strategically isolate India in South Asia and create a boundary dispute to keep India permanently anxious and unbalanced despite India’s best efforts to befriend the PRC even at the cost of its strategic interest in Tibet. India followed a policy of appeasement right through the fifties and it persists till today. This policy of appeasement did not prevent the Chinese to launch the ’62 war against us and later follow a concept of strategic encirclement on land and a string of pearls strategy in the Indian Ocean to isolate India and keep it confined to South Asia, unable to break out on the big stage.
Our Policy of Appeasement and Consequences
Pandit Nehru, who was both the Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister of independent India was completely dazzled by the Chinese success in its communist revolution and thought that by making much of China, India would strike friendship with it and everything would be hunky-dory. In the process he completely ignored the Chinese history. China has been imperialistic throughout its history and never forgot its humiliation by Western powers and Japan in late 19th and up to mid 20th century. The Middle Kingdom syndrome has always stayed with it.
As per Prof CP Fitzerald of Royal Institute of International Affairs: “China was the civilized world; for centuries this was perfectly true as far as Chinese experience reached, and the idea remained firm in Chinese minds, long after it had ceased to be a fact, territory once won for civilization must not be given back to barbarism; therefore territory which was once Chinese must forever remain so and if lost, must be recovered at the first opportunity. Such loss cannot be legal or valid; it is at best a recognition of passing weakness. The whole growth of the Chinese empire, throughout more than 3000 years, had been built on this principle, the barbarians were conquered and then absorbed and turned into Chinese by slow assimilation and cultural influence. To deny this process, to claim that it had or should come to and end, was to Chinese thought a denial of the right, a recognition of failure”.
The chronology of appeasement makes sad reading.
Occupation of Tibet by China and India’s Meek Response
…Nehru went out of his way to introduce Chow En Lai to Asian and African leaders. His patronizing attitude was even resented by Chow En Lai.
When Chinese forcibly occupied Tibet in 1950-51 and turned it into a Chinese colony India’s response was completely weak-kneed and we even did not support the Tibetan plea for a discussion in the UN. A prophetic latter written by late Sardar Patel to Nehru during Chinese occupation of Tibet did not even elicit a response from Nehru. Similarly an apprehension expressed by late Field Marshal Cariappa, who was C-in-C then was contemptuasly dismissed by Nehru.
In his book “Cariappa – His Life and Times,” Brig CB Khanduri, writes: “In May 1951, Cariappa, accompanied by Maj Gen Daulat Singh, the officiating Chief of General Staff, outlined his plan for defence of NEFA. Having listened to him, Nehru asked for reasons. When Cariappa mentioned that the Chinese may have designs on the region, Nehru flared up, thumped hard on the table and said: “It is not the business of C-in-C to tell the PM who is going to attack us where. In fact the Chinese will defend our NEFA Frontier. You mind only Kashmir and Pakistan”.
Support to Chinese in UN and Asia-Africa
Our support to China in becoming a member of the UN is classic Arab and camel story. No country in the world was supporting this after Chinese aggression in Tibet and Korea. We continued to support it even after the Chinese aggression against us in 1962. No one could be more naïve and myopic. The result was China not only became a member of the UN but also of the Security Council and we are still lobbying with nations of the world to prove our suitability to be a member of extended Security Council if ever it comes about. Similarly Nehru went out of his way to introduce Chow En Lai to Asian and African leaders. His patronizing attitude was even resented by Chow En Lai.
Not a Whimper on Chinese Occupation of our Territory
Our foreign minister and his mandarins glibly explain that this year so far only 242 intrusions have taken place which is same as last year so why worry. Have we no self respect as a nation?
The Chinese systematically started nibbling at our territory in Ladakh right from early 50s. It was crucial for them to construct their Xinxiang – Tibet road called the Western Highway through Aksai Chin, the Indian territory in North Eastern Ladakh. Our intelligence, true to its glorious record of complete incompetence did not even come to know about it. We were put wise by the Chinese themselves when they announced completion of Western Highway in Oct 1957.
Instead of outrage, Nehru tried to be blasé about it to explain to the nation that this territory was devoid of any vegetation and therefore useless to the nation, This prompted a hilarious rejoinder from one of the members of parliament that since there was no hair growth on Nehru’s head, should it also be considered useless. Even at this belated stage, it did not occur to Nehru to accept that boundary talks need to be initiated with China and this issue cannot be brushed under the carpet anymore. It is astonishing that we have never till date asked China to vacate our territory occupied by it in Aksai Chin. We go out of our way, even today, to explain away every Chinese intrusion into our territory on perception difference of the Line of Actual Control. Our foreign minister and his mandarins glibly explain that this year so far only 242 intrusions have taken place which is same as last year so why worry. Have we no self respect as a nation?
The Political Leadership and MEA in a Fear Psychosis
While the Armed Forces have got over the humiliation of the ’62 debacle, our political leadership and particularly MEA appears petrified of the Chinese. Whatever be the Chinese provocation, all attempts are made to justify it. No sooner does an Indian leader land in China, he pronounces Tibet as an integral part of China. Chinese on the other hand have never extended to us the courtesy of saying that Sikkim is an integral part of India. They pronounce Arunachal Pradesh as part of China which elicits just a whimper from us. No one is advocating about going to war against China immediately but at least we need to give a strong reply befitting a nation aspiring to be a regional power.