Issue Vol 25.4 Oct-Dec 2010 | Date : 22 May , 2013
“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”.