1 Szczepanski20172Lattimore 1951, 2363 So20014Stern 19645 Menon19656 TheWashington Post 1962On May 2, 1962, Nehru declared that India was preparing for thecontingency of a war with the communist China and stated: “Broadly speaking, wedo not want – we dislike intensely, a war with China. But that is not withinour control. Therefore, we have to prepare for the contingency. We are growingstronger to face it.”6 Heremarked India being in a stronger situation than China, describing China’s internalsituation to be explosive and being pulled down by its own bad harvests.
By the end of that year, Indianprime minister Nehru sent a protesting message to Chou En-Lai concerning theChinese maps, without specifically mentioning the military road of Aksai Chinas a part of China. Nehru prompted Chou to discuss more regarding no borderdisputes between them. Nehru additionallyasserted that these desolated mountain regions were always a part of the Indianterritory, and there was no need for further disagreement about them. As a courteous reply, Chou pointed out that theproposal of the region and boundary had never been officially accepted upon bythe government.
Additionally, Chou explainedNehru that the Chinese authorities had never recognized the McMahon Line, andthat it was only a result of the British aggression. In the reply to Nehru, Chouwas particularly unwavering about Aksai Chin, stating that the territory hadalways been a Chinese province and it has been under regular surveillance bythe Chinese border security. During early 1956, the Chinesearmy started constructing a military highway to Tibet, across the Aksai Chin plateau,which was claimed by the Indian government to be theirs. As the region was remoteand highly desolate, it took the authorities until October 1957 to complete theconstruction under the extreme conditions. The establishment of the highway wasquite unforthcoming for India that it wasn’t until September 1957, they learnedabout it. In July 1958, India confirmed through printed Chinese maps, the new routeand the whole of Aksai Chin as part of the Chinese territory.5 While the Chinese assertionseem in some cases to be based on uncertain grounds, the dispute was purelytheoretical until India’s independence and partition in 1947, which made thenew administration desperately conscious of declaring its rights to the utmostextent. In response, the Chinese communist incursion of Tibet in 1950 showed greateffort by China to assert national dominance to a great measure.
4 Duringhis visit to Peking in October 1954, the Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehruwas confounded by the Chinese map showing 50 thousand square miles of Indianterritory as constituting part of China. The territorial claims were certainly unprovenand when it was brought to the attention of the Chinese leaders, they elucidatedthat the maps were old and need not be taken sternly. Although India acknowledgedChina’s claim to Tibet in 1954, introducing in a relatively affable period, theforward policy adopted by prime minister Nehru in efforts to setup Indianmilitary outposts along Mc Mahon line led to border engagement from Chinese side,resulting in skirmishes and crumbling relations.
Over time the borderissue became of lesser importance for both the countries. By 1947, India hadgained independence from the British rule and Pakistan was separated fromIndia. After the partition, the maps and borders of the Indian subcontinentwere redrawn, and India got engrossed with Pakistan, resolving border disagreementsof Kashmir. Meanwhile, China had pressing matters with the fall of emperor PuYi. The downfall of Qing dynasty in 1911, led to a brief period of civil war,which was followed by a new presidency and a new beginning for the Republic ofChina.3 Thesemajor changes in the governments of both the Asian powers in the late 1940sbrought them to friendly relations by early 1950s.
At this point, it may be wellto note that the Chinese quite clearly did not regard their asserted rightsover the cis – Himalayan region, which political circumstance had preventedthem from pressing between 1912 and 1951, and while the Chinese authority overthe region of Tibet was not an issue, the Indian sovereignty over the territorywas of much concern. The British government ofIndia accepted that fact and settled for the time being, thus India’s controlover the border region became a low priority. Although India and China bothused different demarcations interchangeably, neither of them was particularlyconcerned since the area was mostly uncolonized and served only as anoccasional trading route. Although the immediatecause of the war was the geographical dispute, the roots of the opposingallegations go back to the British rule in India. Prior to 1914, the borderwhich lies between the trans-Himalayan regions, usually considered as Tibetan,and the cis-Himalayan area of Assam was not well defined in specific terms. Inorder to set up a new geographical frontier, a conference of British, Tibetanand Chinese delegates was held in Shimla in 1913.
There upon, a demarcation,known as the McMahon Line was agreed upon between the British (representingIndia) and Tibetan officials.2 But,the Chinese never signed, nor did they in other way indicate the acceptance ofthe proposed border, or even the legal power of the Tibetan government to enterglobal trades without their approval. Instead, China insisted for sovereigntyall the way to Indian side of the region, which left a disputed zone of 5500square miles. Among all, one of themost unjustified events in the global history of India was the Sino – Indianwar. Since the beginning, China and India have been two Asian colossuses. Thewar between the two most populous countries started in the end days of October1962, the origin of which was the dispute caused over the captivating interestin the high regions of Aksai Chin.
1 ThisHimalayan territory was claimed by India to be a part of the state of Kashmir,whereas Chine countered India’s claim and asserted that the region was a partof Xinjiang. Although major changes in both countries’ government in the early1950s brought them to genial relations, intrusions and military strategicprojections, including a Chinese military highway, into each other’s claimedterritory, caused friction between them and eventual war in October 1962.