IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 12th Sep 2020
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EDITORIAL HUNT #134 :“Lessons from Sino-India War 1962 | UPSC“
Lessons from Sino-India War 1962 | UPSC
A game of chess in the Himalayas
In the stand-off with China, India has two choices — walk into the trap that has been laid, or learn from the 1962 event
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : IR : Sino-India Relations
China has not recognised the McMahon Line and India has not accepted China’s control over Aksai Chin. Discuss the role of Table-diplomacy in evading a war-situation.(GS 2)
- Reasons that led to 1962 War
- Chinese dominance strategy
- Way forward
- BORDER TENSIONS : With the tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) refusing to die down, despite the marathon military and diplomatic-level talks.
- FIRST CLASH : The parallels are hard to ignore. In August 1959, after the first border clash between Indian and Chinese troops in Longju.
- CHINESE CLAIMS : China said Indian troops had crossed the McMahon Line and opened fire, and the Chinese border guards had fired back.
- INDIA’S CLAIMS : The next day, New Delhi protested against the Chinese statement, saying it was Chinese troops that had moved into Indian territory and opened fire.
WHAT LED TO THE WAR
- LONGJU INCIDENT : When the Longju incident happened, not many in India might have thought the border tensions would lead to a full-scale Chinese invasion.
- HARD BELIEF : Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Defence Minister V.K. Krishna Menon were absolutely certain that China would not attack India.
- ACCEPTANCE : India accepted Chinese sovereignty over Tibet and signed an agreement with Peking over trade with Tibet.
- UNSUSTAINED HOPES : But what Nehru hoped in return for India’s friendship was China respecting its bequeathed boundaries — the McMahon Line in the east and the frontier (based on the 1842 Tibet-Kashmir agreement) in the west.
- FIRST SETBACK : The first setback to this position was the Longju incident. Within two months, an Indian police patrol team in Kongla Pass in Ladakh came under Chinese attack.
- WAKE UP CALL : This was a wake-up call for Nehru. He asked Chinese troops to withdraw from Longju in return for an assurance from India not to reoccupy the area .
- LAST PROPOSAL : The PM proposed that both sides pull back from the disputed Aksai Chin, where China had already built (unilaterally) a strategic highway.
- CHINESE DISMISSAL : China rejected this proposal and made a counter offer — to recognise the McMahon Line in the east in return for India’s recognition of Chinese sovereignty over Aksai Chin.
- INDIA’S STAKES : Nehru, having checked the historical maps, documents rejected the Chinese offer because he thought it would mean India abandoning its legitimate claims over Aksai Chin.
- FAILED TALKS : After the collapse of the Nehru-Zhou Enlai [Chou en Lai] talks in 1960 in Delhi, tensions escalated fast.
- FORWARD POLICY : In November 1961, Nehru ordered his Forward Policy as part of which India set up patrol posts along the LAC, which was seen as a provocation in Beijing.
- THE WAR : In October 1962, Mao Zedong ordered the invasion.
- The situation today is not exactly the same as 1962.
- TIBET FACTOR : Back then, the Tibet factor was looming over India-China ties.
- DALAI LAMA REFUGE : As soon as the Dalai Lama took refuge in India, Chinese leaders, including Deng Xiaoping, had threatened “to settle accounts” with the Indians “when time comes”.
- TIBETAN REBELS : China also feared that India was providing help to Tibetan rebels, after the 1959 rebellion.
- NUCLEAR POWERS : And unlike in 1962, when India was not politically and militarily prepared for a war with China, today’s conflict is between two nuclear powers.
- DEMARCATION OF BOUNDARY : The boundary has still not been delimited and demarcated.The same issue still prevails.
- RECENT DISRUPTION : China first moving to block Indian patrolling in the Finger area of Pangong Tso and the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh during the summer.
- FORWARD MOVE : India then made a forward move on the southern banks of Pangong Tso last month, similar to Nehru’s Forward Policy in 1961, taking over the heights of the Kailash Range.
- SECURING BORDERS : When Nehru ordered the Forward Policy, his aim was to secure the vast border and prevent further incursions. He never thought China would attack.
- CALCULATIVE RISKS : Now, despite the experience of 1962, India appears to be taking a calculated risk by making forward movements.
- WORSENING SITUATION : This led to the opening of fire in the region, for the first time in 45 years. So, practically, the border situation is back to what it was in 1961.
- CHINESE POLICY : In the run-up to the 1962 war, Mao had taken a “unity and struggle” policy towards India.
- GAME THEORY : China, on the other side, consistently played what game theorists call the game of “strategic dominance”— the strategy which would yield positive outcomes, irrespective of the strategies of the rival player.
- POWERFUL PRESENCE : Back then, China saw itself as the most powerful force in Asia. Japan had been devastated by the war.
- GEOPOLITICAL BALANCE : The British withdrawal and the partition of the subcontinent had changed the geopolitical balance in the continent.
- LEADERSHIP CRISIS : Mao was facing challenges to his leadership within the party after the disastrous Great Leap Forward.
UNDERSTANDING CHINA’S MOVES
- CHINESE STRATEGY : The Chinese strategy today is not very different from that of the 1960s. Now, China considers that it has arrived on the global stage as a military and economic superpower.
- TACKLING CHINA : The COVID-19 outbreak has battered its economy, but it is recovering fast. India, on the other side, is in a prisoner’s dilemma on how to tackle China.
- GEOPOLITICAL STANDING : India is a big, rising power, but is going through short-term challenges. Its economy is weak. Its geopolitical standing in the neighbourhood is not in its best days.
- DIFFERENT SITUATION : Unlike in the 1960s, when Nehru’s non-alignment was blamed for Chinese aggression, today’s India has cautiously moved toward the United States.
- GAME OF DOMINANCE : A combination of all these factors might have led China to believe that it can play the game of strategic dominance once again.
- HIMALAYAN TRAP : If India plays it on China’s terms, there will be war. The question is whether it should walk into the trap laid in the Himalayas, or learn from the experiences of 1962.
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | Lessons from Sino-India War 1962 | UPSC