Boiling Point on the Border: An Examination of the Sino-Indian Border War of 1962 and Its Implications

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  • 7/30/2019 Boiling Point on the Border: An Examination of the Sino-Indian Border War of 1962 and Its Implications


  • 7/30/2019 Boiling Point on the Border: An Examination of the Sino-Indian Border War of 1962 and Its Implications


    5 AM, October 20, 1962. After years of miscalculations and failure to reach

    diplomatic agreement, two powers faced off against each other. However, despite

    the historic crisis occurring across the globe, the two countries discussed here were

    not the United States and the Soviet Union. The Chinese deployed troops to Thag La

    Ridge and at this hour launched an attack against Indian posts, beginning the Sino-

    Indian Border War of 1962. These posts were set up as part of Indian Prime

    Minister Nehrus forward policy, seeking to prevent Chinese advance and push the

    Chinese out of disputed border areas. After years of miscalculations, increased

    tension due to revolution in neighboring Tibet, and ultimately an inability to reach

    agreement peacefully, China launched simultaneous attacks beginning at 5 AM on

    October 20, 1962, resulting in a quick and decisive Chinese victory, with important

    implications for both sides in the wars aftermath.

    The war of 1962 with India was long Chinas forgotten war. While extensive

    literature has explored the border conflict from an Indian perspective and analyzed

    Indias China War in great detail, little was published regarding the Chinese

    perspective.1 Delving into various sources from both Indian and Chinese aspects,

    this paper analyzes the 1962 Sino-Indian War with coverage on historical

    background, confrontational claims, campaign process and the implications for both

    sides of the campaign.


    In order to fully understand the background of the 1962 Sino-Indian Border

    War, one must probe into the historical and geographical elements that shaped the

    relations between the two countries. Conventionally, the discussions on the Sino-

    Indian border issue have conveniently divided the frontier into the western, middle,

    1Indias China War, written by Neville Maxwell, is the first and one of the most important detailed

    accounts of the events surrounding the Sino-Indian War of 1962. Interestingly, as the awareness of the

    1962 war arises in China, Maxwell recently published an article titled Chinas India War in answering the

    question how the Chinese saw the conflict.

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    and eastern sectors. In this section, we will provide detailed historical background

    with respect to each sector.

    Map 1: The Middle Sector2

    2Aksai Chin, Tawang, and India in 1961-1962 [map], in Steven A. Hoffmann, India and the China Crisis,

    Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1990, p. 10.

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    The middle sector, illustrated by Map 1, runs from the northwestern tip of the

    Punjab to Nepal. This sector has seen relatively less conflicts. Although the Indian

    government claimed sovereignty of the western end of the middle sector based on

    the treaties of 1684 and 1842, the middle sector has never been subject to any

    treaty or agreement concluded between British India or the states of India, Tibet, or


    The western sector, particularly the highly disputed Aksai Chin area, was not

    blessed by the absence of conflict. As Map 2 shows, the western sector, running

    from Afghanistan to the northwestern tip of the Punjab, separated Kashmir from

    Xinjiang and the western extremity of Tibet. The Indian and Chinese governments

    draw drastically different borderlines in Aksai Chin, an area that expands from

    Karakoram Pass in the west to Kongka Pass in the east, covering the area between

    Xinjiang and Kashmir. The Chinese government claims that the line of occupation,

    illustrated in the map in dotted lines, runs more or less straight from the

    Karakoram Range east along the crest of the Karakoram Range to the Kongka Pass.3

    However, the Indian government claims that from the Karakoram Pass the frontier

    executes a deep salient up to a point on the crest of the Kunlun Range and descends

    again to the Karakoram Range at a point east of the Kongka Pass.4 The British

    Indian government acted as if Aksai Chin were part of Ladakh, within its

    jurisdiction. Yet the Chinese conversely claim Aksai Chin as part of Xinjiang. Until

    the 1950s, the frontier was delimited in this area and there was something of a void

    between the Indian administration in Ladakh and Chinese administration in


    3J. M. Addis Papers, The India-China Border Question, (Cambridge, Mass: Center of International Affairs,

    Harvard University, April 1963)

    border2.pdf, p.7.4

    Ibid., p.13.
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    Map 2: The Western Sector5

    The eastern sector, as indicated by Map 3, refers to the Sino-Indian border from

    Bhutan in the west to Burma in the east, where 99,000 square kilometers of

    territory is in dispute, described by the Indians as the Northeast Frontier Agency

    5Hoffmann, India and the China Crisis, op cit., p. 11.

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    (NEFA).6 Based on historical treaties and documents of the British administration,

    the Indian government claimed sovereignty over the eastern sector. At the same

    time, the Indians solicited moral and spiritual support based on the essential and

    eternal Indianness of this part of the frontier. A production of the Simla

    Conference, the McMahon Line is the most important historical factor in this area.

    In 1914, the British government convened the Simla Conference, which was

    presented as an attempt to coordinate relations between China and Tibet. However,

    according to Maxwells Indias China War, the aim of the British was that Tibet,

    while nominally retaining her position as an autonomous state under the suzerainty

    of China, should in reality be placed in a position of absolute dependence on the

    Indian government.7 The main British effort at the conference primarily focused on

    dividing Tibet into two zones: inner and outer Tibet. Although Chinese suzerainty

    over the entire region was to be recognized, as officially noted by the British

    government, under such a treaty, China had no administrative rights in the outer

    Tibet area, thus keeping China back from the Sino-Indian borderline. Such an effort

    was strongly resisted by Beijing; from the Chinese perspective, the British simply

    wanted to separate a great part of Tibet from China. Yet British Representative

    McMahon proceeded to sign a joint declaration with the Tibetan delegation withoutthe official consent from Beijing. This secret byproduct of the Simla Conference was

    consolidated in the 1914 discussions between the British and Tibetans, which

    thereafter led to an alignment with only bilateral recognition the McMahon Line.

    On the Chinese side, Beijings leaders constantly resisted the secret British-Tibetan

    declaration and the McMahon Lin, recognizing it as a manifestation of the British

    imperialist endeavors. Essentially, what McMahon alignment did was to push the

    Sino-Indian boundary northward for approximately 60 miles, which indicated

    6Gregory Clark, In Fear of China, Lansdowne Press, 1967,[accessed 10

    November, 2012].7Neville Maxwell, Indias China War, (New York: Pantheon Books, 1970), p. 46.
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    British intention to create a tribal no-mans-land under nominal British


    Map 3: The Eastern Sector9

    The late 1940s witnessed the grand power transition in Asia and thereafter the

    emergency of an independent India and a Communist China. The newly established

    Sino-Indian relations experienced a smooth startin actuality, independent India

    was the first state outside the Soviet bloc to recognize the new China during the last

    days of 1949. As Maxwell suggested,

    Friendship with China had been the keystone of the foreign policy Jawaharlal

    Nehru had set for India: non-alignment, the refusal of India to throw in her lot

    with either of the blocks, Communist and anti-Communist, into which the world

    8Ibid., p. 51.

    9Hoffmann, India and the China Crisis, op cit., p. 17.

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    seemed then so neatly divided; self-reliance in defense, independence in foreign

    policy; concentration upon economic development, at the risk of allowing the

    armed forces to run downall of these depended upon friendship with China,

    and a peaceful northern border. Hostility with China, a live border in the north

    demanding huge defense outlaysthese would bring down the whole arch ofNehrus policies.10

    Given the presumption that both countries needed peace for their reconstruction

    and development, the Sino-Indian treaty of 1954 stated in its preamble that the two

    governments agreed upon the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, in which a

    commitment to mutual respect, mutual non-aggression, mutual non-interference,

    mutual benefit and peaceful co-existence was stated.11 Such was the hope that if

    these principles were applied not only between various countries but also in

    international relations generally, they would have formed a solid foundation for the

    conception of collective peace.

    Also, nonalignment, the defining feature of Indian foreign policy since

    independence, has always been a guiding principle respected and followed by New

    Delhis decision makers and political elites. Nonalignment was announced by

    Nehru, who believed that the only way for India to pursue its goals internationally

    was keeping a far distance from any formal alliance, especially from the Moscow and

    Washington-led blocs of nations. Nonalignment also reflects Gandhis nonviolence

    principles in resolving international disputes, calling for cooperation and peaceful

    dialogues. Nehrus advocacy for such principles bolstered Indias reputation as a

    leader in the global decolonization movement, in which newly independent states

    struggle with ensuring the room for survival amidst superpower rivalries and

    lingering colonial influence.

    However, under the surfaces of peaceful coexistence and non-alignment hid a

    few turmoil elements. The issue of the McMahon Line, seen by the Chinese as

    10Maxwell, Indias China War, op cit., p. 11.

    11Agreement on trade and intercourse between Tibet region of China and India, (New York, NY:

    Secretariat of the United Nations, Vol. 299, Nos. 4303-4325);[accessed 20 October 2012].
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    British imperialist hangover in India after independence, has affected Sino-Indian

    relations from 1914 until present. The government of the Peoples Republic of

    China today, like its predecessors during the Kuomintang era, does not consider that

    China has any obligation from the secret British-Tibetan declaration of the Simla

    Conference and related discussions in 1914. When the British relinquished their

    control over the Indian empire in 1947, the last legacy they left to Indians leaders

    was to translate the McMahon Line from the maps to the ground, as the effective

    northeast boundary of India by establishing posts over the tribal territory. The new

    Indian government guaranteed the receding British colonists that New Delhi would

    complete the unfinished work in the tribal belt: if anything, they intended to pursue

    an even more forward policy than had the British.12

    The hope for collective peace was first shattered by Chinese annexation of Tibet

    in 1951.13 In October 1950, the Peoples Liberation Army conducted military

    actions in the Tibetan area of Chamdo. In 1951, a Seventeen Point Agreement was

    signed between Beijing and the Tibetan representatives, headed by Ngapoi

    Ngawang Jigme, which affirmed Chinas sovereignty over Tibet.14 The Chinese

    occupation of Tibet altered the power dynamics among China, Tibet, and India,

    under which Tibet historically served as a buffer zone between China and India.

    This was a turning point in the Sino-Indian border issue. As Nehru later stated in

    the Lok Sabha on February 23, 1961, When the Chinese forces entered Tibet in

    1950-1951, we thought that the whole nature of our border had changed. It was a

    dead border, it was now becoming alive, and we began to think in terms of the

    protection of that border.15 In actual policy terms, such a turning point meant an

    increase in the number of checkpoints and patrols along the borderlines. During

    this period, the Indians were moving to fill the void in the eastern sector of the Sino-


    Maxwell, Indias China War, op cit., p. 61.13

    Peaceful liberation in Chinese official language14

    Shanti Prasad Varma, Struggle for the Himalayas, (Mori Gate, India: University Publishers, 1966), p.73.15

    Addis, The India-China Border Question, op cit., p.46.


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    Indian borderline, while the PLA carried out extensive activities in the western

    sector, particularly in the highly disputed Aksai Chin area.

    The real borderline skirmish started in 1954, marked by the Barahoti

    Conference. Although through later-on negotiations this small disputed area had

    been successfully neutralized militarily, Chinese and Indian civilian officers were

    camping in it side by side.16 In 1957, the Chinese had completed the construction of

    the Xinjiang-Tibet motor road, which went through the Aksai Chin area. This move

    was perceived by the Nehru administration as a surprising aggression, as Beijing did

    not inform nor seek permission from the Indian government, who viewed Aksai

    Chin as indisputably part of Indian territory. During the 1958-1959 period, the

    Chinese government furthered their occupation of the Aksai Chin area and their

    claim to NEFA in the eastern sector. In March 1959, the armed rebellion in Tibet

    was seen by Beijing as a humiliation to China and a conspiracy supported by the

    Central Intelligence Agency of the United States, the Indian Government, and the

    Nationalist Government. Following the uprising, both sides began advancing further

    into the frontier areas, altering the status quo of administrative void, and resulting

    in the first exchange of fire between Chinese and Indian patrols. The incident also

    accumulated Nehrus unremitting pressure from the press and from the opposition

    in parliament to take a strong position. The honeymoon between Beijing and Delhi

    hence came to an end.

    In August 1959, an Indian border guard was killed during an armed clash at a

    point called Longyu on the McMahon Line. As Nehru revealed on November 16,

    1959, after the Longyu incident it has been decided to place the entire frontier of

    India in direct charge of our army.17 The more serious clash in October 1959 at the

    Kongka Pass on the Kashmir/Xinjiang border, with casualties on both sides,

    galvanized the Indian public opinion and triggered alarmed attention among the

    16Ibid., p. 50.

    17Maxwell, Indias China War, op cit., p.73.

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    Chinese leadership and the Indian government. Facing heightened tension, Beijing

    called for China and India to each withdraw 20 kilometers at once from the

    McMahon Line in the east and from the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the west.

    However, despite such a proposal, as well as prime ministers meeting between

    Zhou Enlai and Nehru, China and India failed to reach an agreement.18 While China

    constantly restated their claim that the entire Sino-Indian boundary had never been

    delimited, India refuted such understanding and defined it as wholly incorrect and

    unacceptable. The early 1962 witnessed a series of fortified defense, exchanges of

    diplomatic notes, and the Dhola Post crisis. On October 6, the border conflict

    reached its climax when Beijing proclaimed that India has finally categorically shut

    the door to negotiations in their reply to the October 6 Indian notes. The

    belligerent intentions and active preparations for military actions from both sides

    therefore led to the inception of the Sino-Indian War on October 20, 1962.

    In addition to bilateral factors, the international political context at the time,

    especially the role of the United States and the Soviet Union, also helped precipitate

    the Sino-Indian conflicts. Throughout the 1959-1962 period, international public

    sympathy usually side with India, as India charged that it was China that refused to

    negotiate border disputes and embarked on an aggressive expansion to Indian

    territory. Following Beijings logic, India was the embodiment of capitalism and

    imperialism hangover, leaning toward the United States. During those years, the

    United States clearly changed its policy toward the Nehru regime. According to the

    Chinese Communist Partys Sino-Indian Warpropaganda documentary, the United

    States almost doubled its foreign assistance to India, amounting to $4.1 billion

    during the two years of Indian confrontation with China.19 In addition, the Soviet

    Union was also an actor whose role cannot be underestimated. It was exactly during

    the Longju incident when Khrushchev was preparing for his visit with President

    19Sino-Indian War,[accessed 25 October 2012].
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    Eisenhower as an effort to amend relations with the United States and regenerate

    the Spirit of Camp David. As J.M. Addis The India-China Border Question records,

    an editorial in Peoples Daily of February 27, 1963 , entitled Whence the

    differences? a reply to Comrade Thorez and other comrades, claimed:

    On that day a socialist country, turning a deaf ear to Chinas repeated

    explanations of the true situation and to Chinas advice, hastily issued a

    statement on a Sino-Indian border incident through its official news agency.

    Making no distinction between right and wrong, the statement expressed

    regret over the border clash and in reality condemned Chinas correct stand.20

    At the dawn of the Sino-Indian War, Khrushchev showed willingness to amend

    relations with the United States, which has always acted as a strategic ally with

    India. All these factors contributed to the acceleration of Sino-Indian border

    conflicts, which eventually triggered in war in October 1962.

    Timeline 1: From Applying the Forward Policy to Ceasefire21:

    1961 - Nehru sends troops and border patrols into disputed frontier areas to

    establish outposts; skirmishes increased in late 1961

    Dec. 1962 - India invades and takes Portuguese Goa

    July - Skirmishes in Aksai Chin

    4 Aug. - China accuses India of advancing even north of the McMahon Line

    Aug. - Chinese logistic and manpower buildup along the frontier

    Sep. - Isolated skirmishes along the disputed border

    5 Oct. - India forms special Border Command under General Kaul

    20[Whence the differencea reply to Comrade Thorez and other

    comrades],[PeoplesDaily], (27 February 1963), citied in J. M. Addis Papers, The India-China

    Border Question, p.174.21

    Appendix 1 Chronology of Events from U.S. Naval Lieutenant Calvin James Barnards The China-India

    Border War CSC 1984 accessed .

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    10 Oct. - First heavy fighting, at Tseng-Jong in NEFA

    20 Oct. - Chinese launch a massive assault across the Namka Chu River in NEFA

    20-21 Oct. - Chinese launch simultaneous attacks in Aksai Chin, successful against

    Galwan Valley and Chip Chap Valley posts

    23 Oct. - Chinese overrun all posts down to Tawang in NEFA

    24-25 Oct. - Chinese probing attacks at Walong, in eastern NEFA

    Late Oct. - Lull in fighting; unproductive diplomatic efforts at compromise fail;

    numerous changes in command in NEFA Indian units

    14 Nov. - Nehru's birthday - Indians launch an attack on Chinese north of Walong

    15 Nov. - the Indian offensive fails

    16 Nov. - Chinese troops overrun Walong

    17 Nov. - Chinese attack Indians on Bailey Trail in NEFA; a Chinese attack at Se La,

    NEFA, is repulsed; Chinese begin a simultaneous attack on Chushul in Aksai


    18 Nov. - Chinese successful at Chushul; no Indian force remains in Aksai Chin;Indian forces are forced to withdraw from Se La; Chinese forces attack Bomdi La

    19 Nov. - Chinese attack Chaku, last Indian forces in NEFA, successfully; Chou En-Lai

    gives ceasefire dictum to Indian official in Peking

    20 Nov. - Chou publicly announces ceasefire; India requesting U. S. military aid, but

    ceasefire ends need for U. S. intervention

    21 Nov. - Ceasefire goes into effect

    1 Dec. - both sides' troops withdraw 20 kilometers from new boundary lines;

    repatriation of prisoners starts

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    Indian Objectives/Confrontational Claims

    Pursuing the Forward Policy

    New Delhi must assert its rights by dispatching properly equipped patrols intothe areas currently occupied by the Chinese, since any prolonged failure to do

    so will imply a tacit acceptance of Chinese occupation, and a surrender to

    Pekings threat to cross the McMahon Line in force should Indian patrols

    penetrate into the disputed areas of Ladakh.22This quote from an editorial in the Times of India in October 1959 expressed a

    conclusion that the Indian government also reached in 1960 in developing a policy

    to deal with Chinese border disputes.23 Indian objectives and confrontational claims

    leading up to the 1962 Sino-Indian Border War found their expression in the Indian

    forward policy. The Chinese construction of a road through Aksai Chin in 1956,

    linking Xinjiang and Tibet, raised issue for the Indian government, which

    maintained that India possessed sovereignty over Aksai Chin. Regarding the

    McMahon Line in the eastern sector, Prime Minister Nehru presumed that China

    recognized its legitimacy, as no border questions were raised when the Sino-Indian

    Agreement on Tibet was concluded in 1954.24 However, in one of the notes

    exchanged between Chinese Premier Chou En-Lai and Indian Prime Minister Nehru,

    Chou En-Lai stressed that the McMahon Line was a product of the British policy of

    aggression. Juridically it had no legal basis.25 Nehru responded with his

    assertion that the McMahon Line had a natural, geographical basis. According to

    Nehru, It also coincided with tradition and over a large part was confirmed by

    international treaties.26 The Indian government was committed to getting China

    out of Aksai Chin and maintaining the McMahon Line, preventing the threat of a

    Chinese advance across the line. Proposals put forward by both Chou En-Lai and

    22Maxwell, Indias China War, pp.173-174.

    23Ibid., pp. 173-174.

    24T. Karki Hussain, Sino-Indian Conflict and International Politics in the Indian Sub-Continent, 1962-66,

    (Faridabad: Thomson Press (India) Limited, 1977), p. 8.25

    Ibid., p. 9.26

    Ibid., p. 9.

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    Nehru regarding different means of withdraw were not found acceptable by the

    other side, and Chou En-Lais visit to New Delhi in April 1960 was considered a

    total failure.27 Around the time of Chou En-Lais visit, a quid-pro-quo settlement,

    such as the Chinese recognizing the McMahon Line in lieu of Indian recognition of

    Aksai Chin as a Chinese position seemed possible.28 According to Indian Defence

    Minister Krishna Menon, aroused public opinion and the influence of the Home

    Minister, Pandit Pant played a strong role in the Indian resistance of such


    When diplomatic measures were unsuccessful in settling boundary disputes

    between the Chinese and Indians, the Indian government determined it needed to

    pursue other measures to settle the argument and achieve a boundary resolution

    congruent with Indian interests. China committed to maintaining its presence in the

    area and refused to withdraw, which meant India faced alternative policy choices: to

    attempt to push back Chinese presence through the use of military force, to accept

    the Chinese status quo on the boundaries, or to pursue a third option. Eager to

    avoid war and not willing to accept Chinese terms, the Indians pursued the third

    choice, which became known as the forward policy.30 The forward policy emerged

    in 1960 under Prime Minister Nehrus government, though it was not really put

    into effect until the end of 1961, largely owing to the Armys unwillingness to

    undertake a course for which the military means were wholly lacking.31

    The forward policys first objective was to prevent any further Chinese

    advance. The policy sought to establish an Indian presence in Aksai Chin to

    27The China-India Border War of 1962, (report prepared by Lieutenant Commander James Barnard Calvin,

    U.S. Navy; Marine Corps Command and Staff College, April 1984);, 27 September 2012),

    Chapter II.28

    Hussain, Sino-Indian Conflict and International Politics in the Indian Sub-Continent, 1962-66, op. cit. p.


    Ibid., p. 15.30

    Maxwell, Indias China War, op cit., p. 174.31

    Ibid., p. 199.
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    encourage the Nehru proposed joint withdrawal, which clearly aligned with Indian

    intentions to eventually get the Chinese out of the area.32 The forward policy

    sought to undermine Chinese control of the disputed areas by the interposition of

    Indian posts and patrols between Chinese positions, thus cutting their supply lines

    and ultimately forcing them to withdraw.33 Nehru sent Indian troops into Aksai

    Chin, and India established about forty-three outposts in the western sector by the

    end of 1961. Nehrus forward policy was formulated under the assumption that the

    Chinese would not respond with war. The Chinese began sending a series of angry

    protests in August 1961, repeatedly warning to retaliate across the McMahon Line

    if the Indians continued pressing forward.34 Still, the premise of the forward policy

    held that no matter how many posts and patrols India sent into Chinese claimed

    and occupied territory the Chinese would not physically interfere with them

    provided only that the Indians did not attack any Chinese positions.35 Nehru

    dismissed the Chinese warnings, explaining to Parliament that the Chinese had

    become rather annoyed because Indian posts had been set up behind their own,

    and reassured any members who might have thought the Chinese tone

    dangerous.36 Nehru continued, If they do take those steps we shall be ready for

    them.37 As can be seen in Map 4, Indias forward policy movements pushed intoChinese claimed Aksai Chin territory, leading to skirmishes. As the timeline details,

    the Chinese also accused India of advancing even north of the McMahon Line in

    August 1962. After the Indian forward policy became effective in 1961, skirmishes

    increased over the next several months, ultimately leading up to the beginning of

    the large-scale military campaign in October 1962.

    32Ibid., p. 174.

    33Ibid., p. 174.

    34Barnard, The China-India Border War of 1962, op. cit., Chapter II.

    35Maxwell, Indias China War, op cit., p. 175.

    36Ibid., p. 235.

    37Ibid., p. 235.

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    Map 438:

    38Maxwell, Indias China War, op cit., p. 257.

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    Chinese Objectives/Confrontational Claims

    Mr. Nehru is the premier of India, our friendly neighbor, and one of the most

    influential politicians in the world whom we respect. To us, we should not

    forget that he is a friend of China who opposes the imperialists policies of warand aggression. In addition, he has made many open-minded comments with

    regards to social progress. However, what a different tone he was singing in his

    speech on April 27th, 1959!39

    Headed by Nehru, the Indian ruling group has interfered in our Tibetan affairs

    over and over again, holding expansionist ambitions toward Tibet which has

    exposed their devious nationalist policy. Yet after the failure of the Tibetan

    rebellion he instigated, Nehru has again betrayed us, turning against China

    with notoriously mad attacks.40

    The first paragraph is quoted from the Peoples Dailys coverage on the Lhasa

    Rebellion on May 6, 1959. The second statement was written few days before the

    launch of 1962 Sino-Indian War. This section seeks to offer an explanation for the

    shift in Chinas attitude toward India from our friendly neighbor to the mad

    attacker, examining factors that led China to war with India in 1962. This section

    analyzes both bilateral and international perspectives, emphasizing the Tibet issue

    and chronological border conflicts.

    From a domestic perspective, the Tibet issue and a series of Sino-Indian borderconflicts from 1959-1962 were of critical importance. On the subject of Tibet, John

    W. Garver argued that a starting point for understanding the Chinese belief system

    about the 1962 war is recognition that the road to the 1962 war begins in Tibet.41

    In other words, according to Garver, Tibet was the root cause of the 1962 war from

    the Chinese perspective. After a series of interwoven exchanges between India and


    [The Tibetan Revolution and the Philosophy of Nehru], [Peoples Daily], (6 May 1959),

    2010-03-23-14-14-18?view=article&id=4417%3A2010-03-23-14-14-18&catid=253%3A-1 .40

    [Reanalyze Nehrus Philosophy regarding the Sino-Indian border

    issue],[Peoples Daily], (October 1962),, p.2.41

    John W. Garver, Chinas Decision for War with India in 1962,[accessed 1 November 2012],

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    negotiation.44 Mao thereafter reiterated Zhous prediction, underlining that the

    border issue with India will be decided through negotiations.45

    Such a promise could be exemplified by Maos order in November 1959, under

    which he withdrew Chinese guards 20 kilometers along all the borders with a

    request for Indias reciprocation. However, although Chinese leaders had shown

    sufficient willingness to concede, Nehru rejected the swap proposal and insisted

    China make further concessions such as the abandonment of Aksai Chin. In the

    following years, India continued with its assertive and unyielding approach in the

    border dispute, and strengthened its aggression in the western border sector, which

    eventually led Mao to reverse his decision.46 Chinas willingness to negotiate with

    India can also be observed in the case of the 1960 talks. In order to seek a peaceful

    resolution of the Sino-Indian border disputes, Premier Zhou Enlai visited New Delhi

    in April 1960 and met with Nehru. However, the meeting did not yield any

    constructive outcomes, as Zhou Enlais goodwill and Chinas unilateral decision to

    halt border patrols were perceived as a sign of weakness by the Indian

    government.47 As a result, upon conclusion of the meetings, Indian forces continued

    to challenge China and progressed beyond the Line of Actual Control first in the

    western sector, establishing 43 strongholds within Chinese territory, then in theeastern sector, crossing the McMahon Line. Unfortunately, Nehrus confidence that

    44Ibid., p. 70.

    45Ibid., p.71.

    46Four days after the border conflicts broke out, on October 24

    th, 1962, China has released a statement

    calling for a seize fire and reopening of peace talks. On November 4th

    , Zhou Enlai again reached out to

    Nehru, hoping to bring India back to the negotiation table. On November 15th

    , Zhou Enlai wrote to leaders

    of Afro-Asian countries as an effort to express Chinas positions in the conflict and to encourage Afro-

    Asian leaders to facilitate a peaceful resolution of the border disputes. However, all these efforts were

    met with refusal from Nehru, including in the aforementioned two cases, which led Chinese leaders toproclaim people of the world will see clearly who is peace-loving and who is bellicose; who upholds the

    friendship between the peoples of China and India and maintains Afro-Asian solidarity, and who destroys

    them; who defends the common interest of Afro-Asian nations in their struggle against imperialism and

    colonialism, and who is against such common interest.47

    Yang Zhifang,[Mao Zedong wanted to divert the attention of the

    Chinese public on domestic issues by launching attacks on India], [], (26 October 2012),[accessed 1 November 2012].
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    the Chinese were just bluffing and would never dare to attack India led to the end of

    Maos armed coexistence and Chinas military actions in 1962.48

    The Tibet issue, the border disputes, along with bilateral and international

    pressure given by both the West and the Soviet Union, pushed China to the brink of

    the 1962 war. From the Chinese perspective, it was precisely the following

    perceived motives of India that led to Chinas decision to go to war with India. First,

    Nehru revealed in the bookThe Discovery of India his ambitions for building an

    Indian empire that expanded from the Middle East to Southeast Asia, even before

    Indias independence eighteen years prior.49 After independence, Nehru and his

    ruling group started to pursue expansionist policies, seeking control of neighboring

    nations economy and trade through intervention in their domestic and foreign

    policies.50 Under such expansionist ambitions, the ruling group of India judged

    Tibet as within its sphere of influence. Second, China believed, without doubt, the

    United States provided support to the Nehru government as an effort to contain

    China. The Kennedy administration openly supported Indias continued aggression

    along the Chinese borders by encouraging Nehru to refuse negotiations and

    providing economic and military aid to help Nehru strengthen his forces.51 China

    viewed these observations as proof that the United States and India formed a defacto alliance. From the Chinese perspective, Indias expansionist ambitions and

    Chinas conspiracy regarding the imperialist powers made the 1962 Sino-Indian

    War necessary and unavoidable.

    48Addis, The China-Indian Border Issue, op cit., p. 70.

    49[Reanalyze Nehrus Philosophy regarding the Sino-Indian border

    issue], opcit., p.1.50

    Ibid., p.3.51

    [The Shadow of the U.S. in the Sino-Indian War: the U.S.

    instigation of India], [Sohu Military], (8 October 2012), [accessed on 10 November 2012].
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    The Campaign

    The Chinese deployed for their assault at Thag La Ridge, along the McMahon

    Line in the eastern sector, on the night of October 19. They were very confident in

    their forces, and convinced that Indians would not open fire, even lighting fires

    along the way to keep warm. At 5 AM on October 20, 1962, the Chinese attacked

    Indian outposts on the Thag La ridge.52 Retired Indian Brigadier J.P. Dalvi, who

    fought during the war and was present at the Thag La ridge confrontation, recalled

    that the Chinese opposite Bridge III fired two Verey lights. The signal was followed

    by a cannonade of over 150 guns and heavy mortars, exposed on the forward slopes

    of Thag La. Our positions came in for a heavy bombardment.53 For BrigadierDalvi, who spent several months as a prisoner to the Chinese,

    This was the moment of truth. Thag La Ridge was no longer, at the moment, a

    piece of ground. It was the crucible to test, weigh, and purify Indias foreign

    and defence policies. As the first salvoes crashed overhead there were a few

    minutes of petrifying shock. The contrast with the tranquility that had

    obtained hitherto made it doubly impressive. The proximity of the two forces

    made it seem like an act of treachery. It had started. This was the end of years

    of miscalculations; months of suspense; days of hope and the end of a confused,

    nightmare week.54

    52Maxwell, Indias China War, op cit., p. 357.

    53J.P. Dalvi, Himalayan Blunder: The Curtain-Raiser to the Sino-Indian War of 1962, (Bombay: Thacker,

    1969), p. 364.54

    Ibid., p. 364.


    Successful Chinese simultaneous attacks in the east and



    Diplomatic measures fail, changes in Indiancommand/strategy, seek aid

    End All-out attack by Chinese, ceasefire

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    This assault marked the start of the Sino-Indian Border War, an eye-opening and

    humiliating conflict for the Indians. The Chinese attacked central Indian positions.

    The Gorkhas and Rajputs bore the brunt of the assault, with Chinese artillery

    striking many Gorkhas as they tried to move positions and the Rajputs facing

    simultaneous attacks from two sides.55 The Indians, outnumbered and under

    armed, attempted to valiantly fight back. Nonetheless, the Chinese strength proved

    too much to handle. The Chinese then began their assault on Tsangdhar. The

    Gorkhas and Rajputs along the river line fell within four hours, by 9 AM, and the

    vital position at Tsangdhar by this point was defended only by a weak company of

    Gorkhas which had been preparing to march out to Tsangle and the two

    paratroop guns. Firing over open sights, these fought until the crews were wiped

    out.56 The Chinese began their first attack on Tsangdhar at 9 AM that same day.

    Transport aircraft attempted to execute drops as usual but were quickly shooed-off

    by Chinese fire.57 Dalvi expressed his ashamedness with Indian forces and high-

    level command, writing, No one had bothered to tell the Air Force that a battle was

    imminent or had in fact started. We did not believe in unity of command and

    obviously Army-Air cooperation was not functioning smoothly.58 Dalvi decided to

    move with the remaining Gorkhas to Tsangdhar to regroup there. He receivedapproval from General Prasad for his move to Tsangdhar. Dalvi quoted Prasads

    official report, Prasad stated, Brigadier Dalvi asked my permission to withdraw to

    Tsangdhar and reorganize there. He moved only on my direct orders, but before he

    could get to Tsangdhar the enemy had already occupied this feature.59 The Chinese

    take-over at Tsangdhar, according to Dalvi, marked the tragic end to a week which

    had begun with Nehrus Olympian edict to throw out the Chinese and had finished

    55Maxwell, Indias China War, op cit., p. 357.

    56Ibid., p. 357.

    57Dalvi, Himalayan Blunder, op cit., p. 373.

    58Ibid., p. 373.

    59Ibid., p. 375.

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    with the complete rout of the out-numbered and out-weaponed troops.60 Dalvi

    criticized the Nehru administration, though unwilling to give an inch, India instead

    lost thousands of square miles. Bleeding from a thousand wounds, 7 Brigade

    expired: but India was to go on bleeding for many more years.61 Dalvi praised the

    valiant fight of Indian soldiers, but ultimately, undermanned, out-weaponed, and

    under trained, the Indian were doomed to fail when the Chinese launched their

    offensive at Thag La Ridge. Map 5 shows initial Chinese attacks launched against

    Indian posts in the eastern sector.

    Map 562:

    60Ibid., p. 375.

    61Ibid., p. 375.

    62Maxwell, Indias China War, op cit., p. 361 .

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    The Chinese simultaneously attacked the western sector. In the west, Chinese

    attacked the Indian posts in the Chip Chap, Galwan, and Pangang Tso areas.63 In

    addition to the aforementioned eastern sector assault, Wave after wave of Chinese

    troops in a massive two pronged sweep came close to encircling the 50,000 square

    miles of Indian, Himalayan territory.64 The Chinese shelled and overran the main

    Indian Galwan post. Neville Maxwell explained that the posts fought as best they

    could but were soon overwhelmed, the little garrisons being either killed or

    captured.65 Western Command gave orders to the small and isolated posts to

    withdraw before the Chinese offenses reached them.66 The forward policy had

    met with the fate which from the beginning the real soldiers, like Dalvi,had

    foreseen.67 The delusion, and stubbornness in both underestimating Chinese

    warnings and pursuing a forward policy that the Indians were not militarily capable

    of pursuing, resulted in the destruction of Indian posts, loss of lives, and withdraw

    a humiliating period for the Indians after initial Chinese assaults in the Sino-Indian

    Border War.

    After withdraw became imminent for certain NEFA and western posts, Indian

    leadership needed to construct retreat plans and decide where to make a stand. In

    the east, immediately Indian generals, General Thapar and General Sen, felt

    compelled to make a stand at Tawang. After the Thag La Ridge victory, the Chinese

    immediately developed a three-prong attack. The first Chinese force was the one

    that had captured Dalvi and defeated 7 Brigade and had come through Shakti and

    was poised ten miles north of Tawang.68 The second prong came through

    Khinzemane and joined with the first force.69 The Chinese also sent a third line of


    M.L. Sali, India-China Border Dispute: A Case Study of the Eastern Sector, (New Delhi: A.P.H. PublishingCorporation, 1998), p. 88.64

    Ibid., p. 88.65

    Maxwell, Indias China War, op cit., pp. 358-359.66

    Ibid., p. 359.67

    Ibid., p. 359.68

    Barnard, The China-India Border War of 1962, op. cit., Chapter V.69

    Ibid., Chapter V.

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    advance that came down through Bum La.70 Thus, by October 23, Tawang was

    threatened from both the north and the south.

    With no natural defences at Tawang, consequently on that same day orderswent out to the force at Tawang that they were to withdraw to Bomdi La, some

    sixty miles back on the road to the plains.71 The attractiveness of Bomdi La lied in

    the calculations that it marked the farthest point to the north where the Indians

    could build up more quickly than the Chinese.72 At Army Headquarters, conversely,

    Brigadier Palit urged that India should hold Se La much closer to Tawang only

    about fifteen miles away. Palit argued for a hold at Se La because of its natural

    defensive value in denying invaders access to the plains, and ultimately General Sen

    reversed the order to hold Se La instead of Bomdi La. The Indians withdrew to Se

    La, which they planned to reinforce and defend in strength.73 However, there

    were several difficulties in the plan to defend Se La, which proved disastrous for the

    Indians. The height at Se La required troops to operate at altitudes between 14,000

    and 16,000 feet, which they were not capable due to lack of proper equipment and

    not being acclimated after coming from the plains.74 The defensive position at Se La

    was also too far from the plains to quickly build up and too near to Tawang that the

    Chinese could more easily assault the post. Committing to Se La meant the Indians

    needed to hold a very deep area, from Se La to Bomdi La, separated by some sixty

    miles of difficult and unreliable road through high, broken country.75 Air support

    was only on a supply level; the government did not want to risk tactical air support

    with bombers or ground-attack aircraft for fear of Chinese retaliation against

    Indian cities, especially Calcutta, particularly with memory of the huge panic that

    70Ibid., Chapter V.

    71Maxwell, Indias China War, op cit., p. 368.

    72Ibid., p. 368.

    73Barnard, The China-India Border War of 1962, op. cit., Chapter V.

    74Maxwell, Indias China War, op cit., p. 369.

    75Ibid., p. 369.

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    swept Calcutta during World War II when random Japanese bombs fell there.76 In

    addition to occupying Tawang on October 25, the Chinese also attacked Indian posts

    elsewhere along the McMahon Line and these had fallen under varying degrees

    of pressure.77 In the eastern sector, the Chinese also made some probing attacks

    on Walong on October 24 and October 25, butafter October 25, NEFA fell into a lull,

    with the majority of Chinese forces paused in Tawang, about ten miles south of

    McMahon Line.78 Changes of the Indian command of eastern brigades transpired

    until no brigade in NEFA had its original battalions under command.79

    Conversely, the Indians made focused defensive efforts in the western sector,

    pulling troops out of Kashmir and also deploying all the Western Commands

    transport reserves to the job of reinforcing the Ladakh front, and the Indian

    strength there grew quickly.80 The Indians established divisional H.Q. at Leh in

    early November, with an additional four infantry battalions and a fifth battalion

    added by mid-November.81

    Though a two-week lull in military conflict emerged after the initial period of the

    war, diplomatic activity increased. Chinese Premier Chou En-Lai sent a letter on

    October 24, 1962, to Prime Minister Nehru offering a peace settlement that

    proposed disengagement of both sides and withdraw twenty kilometers from

    present lines of actual control, a Chinese withdrawal north in NEFA, and that China

    and India not cross lines of control in Aksai Chin.82 Chou En-Lai offered that the

    Chinese would pull back over the McMahon Line, and Indian troops in the

    remaining forward posts in the western sector would withdraw to the line that the

    Indian Army had held before the forward policy was put into effect in 1961. 83


    Ibid., p. 370.77Barnard, The China-India Border War of 1962, op. cit., Chapter V.

    78Ibid., Chapter V.

    79Maxwell, Indias China War, op cit., p. 371.

    80Ibid., pp. 370-371.

    81Ibid., p. 371.

    82Barnard, The China-India Border War of 1962, op. cit., Chapter V.

    83Maxwell, Indias China War, op cit., p. 374.

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    Nehru replied on October 27 with eagerness to restore peace and friendly

    relations, for which he was criticized for being mild despite Chinese aggression.84

    Nehru disagreed with a mutual twenty kilometer withdrawal after 40 or 60

    kilometers of blatant military aggression. Nehru proposed, instead, a return to the

    boundary prior to 8 September 1962 before any Chinese attacks; only then would

    India be interested in talks.85 After another exchange of the letters, Chou En-Lai

    reinforced the proposal to return back to the Line of Actual Control, and Nehru

    changed tone and showed that New Delhis approach to the boundary dispute had

    changed only to harden.86 Ultimately, the Indians were not willing to budge on

    their claimed lines, and a failure to reach agreement despite Chinese initial victories

    forced them to reconsider foreign involvement.

    As the campaign progressed, initial Indian defeats and the appearance of a

    lengthy war forced Nehru to budge on his non-alignment policy. He finally shifted

    to accept military aid. On October 29, the American Ambassador called on Nehru

    offering any military equipment that India might need, and Nehru instantly

    accepted the offer.87 With the Cuban Missile Crisis also happening in October 1962,

    the Soviets Indias supporters through the 1950s were preoccupied and not

    offering too much attention to the Border War.88 This fact caused the Indians to

    court supportfrom both England and the United States, and military supplies from

    both countries began arriving in early November.89 Moreover, the United States

    seemed eager to help India against the perceived menace of Communism.90 The

    Indian Parliament proclaimed a state of national emergency on November 8,

    adopting a resolution to drive out the aggressors from the sacred soil of India.91


    Barnard, The China-India Border War of 1962, op. cit., Chapter V.85Ibid., Chapter V.

    86Maxwell, Indias China War, op cit., p. 377.

    87Ibid., p. 378.

    88Barnard, The China-India Border War of 1962, op. cit., Chapter V.

    89Ibid., Chapter V.

    90Ibid., Chapter V.

    91Ibid., Chapter V.

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    These events during the lull in fighting did not bring about peace and ultimately led

    into the final phase of the war.

    In addition to seeking U.S. and British aid, Nehru also reinforced the troops. Hestationed an additional 30,000 men in November in the border areas. 92 On

    Nehrus birthday, November 14, the Indians also launched an ultimately

    unsuccessful counteroffensive along the eastern borders. With the Indians

    attacking, the PLA reinforced eight infantry and three artillery regiments along the

    eastern borders; four regiments at the middle section of the eastern borders and

    one regiment in the west, totaling 56,000 troops.93 The Chinese troops cut off

    supply lines in the east by encircling Indian forces on November 17. The following

    day, the Chinese launched an all-out attack on the Indian troops.94 Indian troops

    were forced to withdraw from Se La, leaving 48 Brigade at Bomdi La as the only

    organized Indian formation left in NEFA.95 The Chinese also simultaneously

    attacked in the western sector. On November 18, no Indian forces remained in

    Aksai Chin. The Chinese launched an attack on the last remaining troops in NEFA,

    and with the disintegration of 48 Brigade at about three oclock in the morning of

    November 20, 1962, no organized Indian military force was left in NEFA or the

    territory claimed by China in the western sector.96 Thus, November 20 marked

    militarily the Chinese victory as complete, and the Indian defeat absolute.97 The

    Chinese followed-through on their emphatic warnings toward the Indian forward

    policy, and the result of the war revealed important implications for both sides. The

    progression of Chinese assaults by date can be seen in Map 6.

    92Li Xiaobing, Sino-Indian Border War (1962), in China at War, edited by Xiaobing Li, (Santa Barbara, CA:

    ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2012), p. 400.93

    Ibid., p. 400.94

    Ibid., p. 400.95

    Maxwell, Indias China War, op cit., p. 406.96

    Ibid., p. 408.97

    Ibid., p. 408.

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    Map 698:

    98Maxwell, Indias China War, op cit., p. 416.

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    On November 21 at midnight, Chou En-Lai and the Chinese announced ceasefire:

    Beginning from 00.00 on November 21st, 1962, the Chinese frontier guards

    will cease fire along the entire Sino-Indian border. Beginning from December

    1st, 1962, the Chinese frontier guards will withdraw to positions 20 kilometresbehind the line of actual control, which existed between China and India on

    November 7, 1959.99

    The ceasefire agreement simply restated the compromise that China had been

    offering for years.100 China would keep Aksai Chin, which it viewed as extremely

    important, and both forces would retreat 20 kilometers from the McMahon Line.101

    Regarding Aksai Chin and its strategic importance, Chou En-Lais ceasefire dictum

    made it clear that the Indians would keep their troops twenty kilometers back form

    the ceasefire line, and that China reserved the right to strike back if India did not do

    so.102 The Chinese troops began withdrawing December 1, as the ceasefire

    declared. They set up strong check points and posts to ensure their position in

    Aksai Chin in the west, and fully withdrew north of McMahon Line in the east.103

    Regarding casualty figures from the war, the Indian Defence Ministry released

    these numbers in 1965: 1,383 killed, 1,696 missing, and 3,968 captured.104

    According to Lieutenant Barnard, China released no casualty figures.105 However,

    Dr. Xiaobing Li wrote that according to Chinese reports. Total PLA casualties were

    2,400 dead and wounded.106 Dr. Li also wrote that by the time China declared the

    ceasefire, both sides had engaged more than 100,000 troops.107

    99Ibid., p. 417.


    Barnard, The China-India Border War of 1962, op. cit., Chapter VI.101Ibid., Chapter VI.

    102Ibid., Chapter VI.

    103Ibid., Chapter VI.

    104Maxwell, Indias China War, op cit., p. 424.

    105Barnard, The China-India Border War of 1962, op. cit., Chapter VI.

    106Li, China at War, op cit., p. 400.

    107Ibid., p. 399.

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    Indian Implications and Analysis

    Indias nonalignment foreign policy before the war allowed for low defense

    spending and a weak Indian Army; however, following the crushing defeat in 1962at the hands of the Chinese, a realignment of foreign policy and consequently

    military structure was necessary. A comparison of the military forces in each

    country before the onset of war in 1962 revealed a far superior PLA force. The

    Peoples Liberation Army was estimated to have the strength of approximately three

    million officers and men in 1962.108 The central nature of the Chinese military

    allowed for a unified, single command ofall Chinese land, sea, and air forces.109

    The ground combat forces were organized in 130 divisions, mostly infantry, across

    eleven military regions. Weaknesses of the Chinese military at the onset of the war

    included: a struggling national economy leading to military cutbacks, a lack of Soviet

    military aid due to deteriorated relations, and tight control over the PLA, which

    prevented officer decision-making without authorization.110 Strengths of the PLA,

    especially relative to the Indians in the war, lied in its vastly greater size and

    number of forces, mobile preparedness, and preparedness for mountain warfare

    experience that had been gained in mountain and cold weather warfare in Korea.

    The Indian Ministry of Defence, the central agency for governmentpolicy decision

    on defense matters, oversaw the Indian Army, which was organized into three

    Commands: Western, Eastern, and Southern.111 The Army numbered over 400,000

    at the time war broke out according to Brigadier Dalvi.112 The Indian Army faced

    significant personnel problems, having only eight divisions in 1962 seven

    infantry and one armored.113 To stress the sheer difference in 1962 of the size of

    108Barnard, The China-India Border War of 1962, op. cit., Chapter III.

    109Ibid., Chapter III.

    110Ibid., Chapter III.

    111Ibid., Chapter III.

    112Dalvi, Himalayan Blunder, op cit., p. 365.

    113Barnard, The China-India Border War of 1962, op. cit., Chapter III.

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    both sides forces and the number of divisions, the following two graphical

    representations were included.114

    Graph 1: Graphical Representation of Differences in Military Size

    Graph 2: Representation of Differences in Number of Army Divisions

    114Indias total military personnel numbers were about 13.33% those of China in 1962, and Chinaalso had 122 more Army divisions.





    1962 Military Strength

    1962 Military Strength

    1962 Army Divisions



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    Furthermore, weaknesses of the Indian military included: a minimal defense

    budget, resulting from the Nehru administrations refusal to believe India faced

    external threats; a shortage of experienced officers and non-commissioned officers

    post-independence because the British had previously provided leadership;

    inadequate intelligence; lack of preparedness for fighting at high altitudes and in

    cold weather; and a lack of mobility of the forces.115 The Indians did not truly

    possess any strength militaristically relative to the Chinese. The tremendous

    disparity in forces was reflective of the differences in Chinese and Indian foreign

    policies before the 1962 Border War. Such inequality allowed for a quick and

    decisive Chinese victory, and left the Indians humiliated. The Sino-Indian Border

    War resulted in a shift of Indian military and foreign policy and also had

    implications for Chinese strategy, particularly regarding its relations in the region.

    The reason the Indian government maintained such minimal military forces was

    directly related to its foreign policy. The Indians focused on peaceful cooperation

    and limited war aims if necessary. The forward policy was established with belief

    that the Chinese would not be militaristically aggressive against the Indians

    regardless of the number of Indian posts set up along the border. India was also

    bogged down by the Kashmir dispute with Pakistan, and referred the dispute

    with Pakistan to the United Nations for possible resolution.116 The nonalignment

    posture of India meant that India did not need a particularly large, modern, and well

    prepared force because all-out war seemed improbable. Instead limited

    approaches, such as the forward policy, could be pursued. However, that changed

    when the Chinese assault in October-November 1962 humiliated the Indians and

    warranted a change in Indian foreign policy.

    115Barnard, The China-India Border War of 1962, op. cit., Chapter III.

    116Sumit Ganguly and Manjeet S. Pardesi, Explaining Sixty Years of Indias Foreign Policy, India Review,

    vol. 8, issue 1, (Jan.-Mar. 2009): p. 7. Academic Search Premier.

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    Before the war, the Nehru administrations commitment to nonalignment led to

    the adoption of a particular set of policy choices. Specifically, one of the key

    elements of the doctrine of nonalignment was the limitation of high defense

    expenditures.117 India believed in the policy of Panchsheel, or the Five Principles

    of Peaceful Coexistence, towards the PRC, which included mutual respect for each

    others territorial integrity and sovereignty; non-aggression; non-interference in

    one anothers internal affairs; equality and mutual benefit; and peaceful

    coexistence.118119 This explained the drastically limited expenditures of the

    Indian military even when steady evidence about a possible security threat from

    the PRC continued to mount.120 The nonalignment policy proved to be extremely

    costly when the border negotiations with the PRC ultimately reached a cul-de-sac in

    1960.121 This dead-end led the Indians into the forward policy to attempt to

    restore its territorial claims along the Himalayan border. However, as Dalvi

    expressed, the forward policy was misguided and delusional. According to Indian

    Lieutenant Colonel J.R. Saigal, the Chinese came into our house, slapped us, and

    have gone back.122 Though after humiliating the Indians, ceasefire was reached,

    and the Chinese withdrew, borders still remained disputed between the two

    countries. The defeat led India to shift its foreign policy and consequentlynecessitated a military build-up.

    India learned several important military lessons from the 1962 Border War.

    First, India learned the danger in assumptions. Nehru assumed that China would

    not confront Indian troops and would passively retreat, but the assertive forward


    Ibid., p. 7.118Ibid., p. 7.

    119Panchsheel, the Indian term for the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, was written in the

    preamble of the Sino-Indian Tibetan agreement concluded in 1954 (Maxwell, Indias China War, op. cit. p.


    Ganguly and Pardesi, Explaining Sixty Years of Indias Foreign Policy, op cit., p. 7.121

    Ibid., p. 7.122

    Sali, India-China Border Dispute: A Case Study of the Eastern Sector, op. cit., p. 88.

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    policy. brought retaliation from China.123 Assumptions were dangerous, and

    India needed to validate hypotheses about the enemy by accurate intelligence,

    which India lacked during the war.124 Related to this point, though both sides used

    reconnaissance patrols, the results of the confrontations showed that China had

    good intelligence and used it to good advantage, but India did not, and it needed to

    improve its intelligence gathering and application.125 India also learned not to

    ignore the counsel of senior army officers. These officers warned Nehru of Indias

    unpreparedness for war with China, but he ignored their advice, which proved

    disastrous for India. Brigadier Dalvi expressed that the Indian defeats at the hands

    of the Chinese, particularly at Thag La where he was captured, above all else

    resulted from the Governments failure to issue proper policy guidance and major

    directives.126 The Indian military also learned lessons on logistical readiness and

    preparedness for conditions. Whereas the Chinese had stockpiled supplies in

    Tibet, and had the manpower to keep the front well supplied, India lacked such

    logistical readiness, and even ran out of ammunition on several occasions during

    the war.127 The Indian military was also neither trained nor prepared for cold

    weather and mountain operations.128 The uniforms and equipment were not

    suitable for the high altitude conditions, reaching well over 10,000 feet at somebattles. Finally, India learned the importance of generalship, leadership, and

    command and control.129 The Indian forces in the Western Command had strong

    organization and leadership. However, the opposite was true in NEFA, where there

    was often confusion, and numerous command changes resulted in disorganization

    and poor combat readiness.130 With these lessons learned, India embarked on a


    Barnard, The China-India Border War of 1962, op. cit., Chapter III.124Ibid., Chapter III.

    125Ibid., Chapter VII.

    126Dalvi, Himalayan Blunder, op cit., p. 397.

    127Barnard, The China-India Border War of 1962, op. cit., Chapter VII.

    128Ibid., Chapter VII.

    129Ibid., Chapter VII.

    130Ibid., Chapter VII.

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    substantial program of military modernization.131 The Indians made a

    commitment to the creation of a million-strong Army with ten new mountain

    divisions equipped and trained for high altitude warfare, a 45-squadron air force

    with a supersonic aircraft, and a modest program of naval expansion.132 India

    learned from the defeat, and took measures to improve its military capabilities,

    increasing military size and improving the preparedness and intangibles of the


    After 1962, there was a re-evaluation of Indias role in global politics, leading

    to the gradual shift away from the nonalignment policy.133 The United States

    provided assistance to India during and after the conflict, but the military

    cooperation between the two countries in the aftermath of the 1962 war was only

    fleeting as the United States disengaged itself from South Asia after the second

    Indo-Pakistani conflict in 1965 as it became increasingly preoccupied with the

    prosecution of the Vietnam War.134 From the Indian perspective, the United States,

    for all practical purposes, did not have interest or give attention to India.135 The

    Soviets sought to expand their influence in the subcontinent, by brokering a

    peace agreement between India and Pakistan in 1966.136 With the U.S.

    disengagement, Pakistan recognized an opportunity to expand the scope of its

    security cooperation with the PRC to balance Indian power, thereby contributing to

    a growing security nexus between Indias two major adversaries.137 Pakistan

    enjoyed the appearance of a weak India after the Border War of 1962, and with

    Chinese support felt in a favorable position to resolve lingering border disputes in


    Ganguly and Pardesi, Explaining Sixty Years of Indias Foreign Policy, op cit., p. 8.132 Ibid., p. 8.133

    Nitya Singh, How to Tame Your Dragon: An Evaluation of Indias Foreign Policy Toward China, India

    Review, Vol. 11, No. 3 (2012), p. 143. Academic Search Premier.134

    Ganguly and Pardesi, Explaining Sixty Years of Indias Foreign Policy, op cit., p. 8.135

    Ibid., p. 8.136

    Ibid., p. 8.137

    Ibid., p. 8.

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    Kashmir.138 The reorganization and rebuilding of the Indian Army, however,

    alarmed Pakistan. These factors played a role leading to the Indian-Pakistan border

    war in Kashmir in 1965.139

    Though India suffered a defeat in the Sino-Indian Border War, failing to

    achieve the border settlement that it desired when it initiated the forward policy

    under Nehru, there were still benefits in the loss. For one, the country emerged

    united as never before. The Communist Party in India lost the little clout it had in

    the country.140 India also took steps to move away from nonalignment, seeking

    foreign aid during the war, and fortifying its military in the wars aftermath. The

    nonalignment policy of Prime Minister Nehru was not well suited for India. His

    stubbornness in refusing to recognize the Chinese threat led him to develop and

    implement the faulty forward policy. Nehrus administration was not going to

    budge on the terms it desired regarding border resolution with China. The Chinese

    clearly asserted their militaristic might in the region, serving a blunt awakening for

    India. Though the shift in policy away from nonalignment was gradual for India, the

    1962 defeated marked a transition in Indian foreign policy. Such a shift was

    necessary for the security interests of the country. The failure of the forward policy

    drew India into war with China and a debilitating defeat followed, yet still the

    resulting lessons learned and shift in Indian policy were in the best interest of the

    country. Before the war, Indian leadership failed to recognize its foreign policy and

    militaristic deficiencies, but after the defeat, Indias obvious choice was to transform

    its foreign policy and modernize the military.

    138Barnard, The China-India Border War of 1962, op. cit., Chapter VII.

    139Ibid., Chapter VII.

    140Ibid., Chapter VII.

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    Chinese Implications and Analysis

    Ancient Chinese philosopher Xun Zi once said, One is always blinded by one-sided

    biases and could not see the full truth. Issues in China-India relations such as

    borders, history, and trade are merely brief episodes that should not blind peoplefrom seeing the full truth. We should believe that the governments, peoples, and

    intellectual elites of the two nations could take the 50th anniversary of the Sino-

    Indian war as a point of departure, and work together toward building greater

    harmony between the two civilizations.141

    The above is a quote from Global Times, one of the Chinese Communist Partys

    official voices to the outside world. Global Times is often regarded as the

    conservative and nationalisticsometimes even jingoisticChinese official media

    outlet covering international affairs. While liberal scholars and pundits frequently

    criticize its pro-government stance, the rhetoric ofGlobal Times does reflect to a

    certain extent the positions of Chinas foreign policy makers. According to Global

    Times, the full truth ofSino-Indian relations can be found in several aspects:

    First, both civilizations are nurtured by rivers that originate from the Himalaya

    Mountains and the Tibet Plateau; second, there has never been any clash between

    the two civilizations during their centuries of exchange; third, the Mahayana

    doctrine has carried the essence of ancient Indian culture to China, where Indias

    past is preserved in the Chinese language; fourth, Buddhism has helped unify China

    in the aftermath of the Han Dynastys demise; fifth, China and India are the onlycivilization-sates among the worlds nation states; sixth, the world will benefit from

    a prosperous China and India, as the combined population of the two countries

    accounts for 40% of the entire human race.142

    Such full truth, to some extent, is depicted as Chinas official foreign policy rhetoric

    toward India in media outlets such as the GlobalTimes.

    Indeed, with respect to Chinese official posture, Chinese President Hu Jintao met

    with Prime Minister Singh on March 9, 2012. The two leaders jointly declared the

    141 Tan Zhong, [Sino-Indian relations should not be clouded

    by the border conflicts], [Global Times], (22 October 2012)[accessed 1 November 2012], p.1.142

    Ibid., p.2.
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    year of 2012 as the Year of China-India Friendship and Cooperation.143 Yet

    diplomatic language does not always translate into smooth relations., one

    of Chinas most popular portal websites recently featured a special topic titled

    Defeating India Only Requires 34 Days Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of

    the Sino-Indian Border War.144 On this special page decorated with militaristic

    graphics, Chinese editors listed detailed comparisons between Chinese and Indian

    arms, tracking the comparative development of Indian and Chinese weaponry as

    well as military strategies. Articles representing Indian perspectives are highlighted

    with provocative titles such as Indian joint chief: the 1962 fiasco will not repeat

    itself ifgoing to war with China again, Senior Indian military officer calls for

    remembering the lessons from 1962 and arming the troops to the teeth,and India

    ridicules Chinese aircraft carrier.145

    This unofficial, yet highly pronounced, hostility toward each other among

    Chinese and Indian elites leads us to resonate with the arguments presented in the

    article Historys Hostage: China, India and the War of 1962, which appeared in the

    Japanese current affairs magazine The Diplomat.146 The relationship between China

    and India is still haunted and often held hostage by the border war in 1962,

    notwithstanding rapid development of both economies, which resulted in muchcloser ties and frequent exchanges. Among the various disputes confronting China

    and India, Tibet remains a defining variable that shapes the direction of Sino-Indian

    relations in the contemporary context. As C. Raja Mohan correctly asserts, When

    there is relative tranquility in Tibet, India and China have reasonably good relations.

    143 [Hu Jintao Meets with Indian Prime Minister Singh], [xinhua], (3

    March 2012),[accessed 7 November2012].144

    34 [Defeating India Only Requires 34 Days Commemorating the 50th

    Anniversary of the Sino-Indian Border War],, .145


    Ivan Lidarev, Historys Hostage: China, India and the War of 1962, (21 August 2012),[accessed 27

    October 2012].
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    When Sino-Tibetan tensions rise, Indias relationship with China heads south.147

    Therefore in this section, we will use Tibet as the core issue in exploring the Chinese

    implications of the 1962 Sino-Indian War and thereafter position the Tibet issue at

    the center in the grand picture of Sino-Indian relations.

    If long before the war Tibet began to plague the relationship between Beijing

    and Delhi148, the war of 1962 consolidated such mutual suspicions and sealed the

    fate of the Tibet issue as an eternal source of tension in Sino-Indian relations.149

    While these differences existed since the founding of the PRC, the 1962 war

    cemented evidence of how far both parties were willing to go, hence haunting

    bilateral relations ever since. With the presence of Dalai Lama and the Tibetan

    Government in Exile in Dharamsala, India remains the constant Chinese strain and

    ensures constant tensions between the two emerging powers. The continuous

    border disputes in the eastern and western sectors could be seen as the

    materialization of such tension: even today, while New Delhi still insists on its

    sovereignty over the Chinese-controlled Aksai Chin territory, Chinas territorial

    claim on the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh (illustrated by Map 7 below) has

    been a longstanding issue of concern for policy makers in both countries.

    147Lidarev, Historts Hostage, op cit..

    148Delhi, by then controlled by British government


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    Map 7: Arunachal Pradesh150

    Regarding Chinese moves in the diplomatic dimension, the facts speak for

    themselves. In May 2007, China denied visa to Ganesh Koyu, an IndianAdministrative Service (IAS) officer who was scheduled to depart for a study trip to

    Beijing and Shanghai. The Chinese denied the visa to Officer Koyua resident of

    Arunachal Pradesh areabecause he is a Chinese citizen and therefore has no

    necessity to obtain a Chinese visa.151 In July 2009, China tried to blockIndias

    request for a US$2.9 billion loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) because

    150Compare Infobase Pvt. Ltd.,




    China Denies Visa to IAS Officer from Arunachal, Financial Express (26 May 2007)

    [accessed 15 November 2012].,r:12,s:0,i:137&tx=82&ty=80,r:12,s:0,i:137&tx=82&ty=80,r:12,s:0,i:137&tx=82&ty=80,r:12,s:0,i:137&tx=82&ty=80,r:12,s:0,i:137&tx=82&ty=80,r:12,s:0,i:137&tx=82&ty=80,r:12,s:0,i:137&tx=82&ty=80,r:12,s:0,i:137&tx=82&ty=80