[1] Chinese province and it has been

1 Szczepanski

Lattimore 1951, 236

3 So

Stern 1964

5 Menon

6 The
Washington Post 1962

On May 2, 1962, Nehru declared that India was preparing for the
contingency of a war with the communist China and stated: “Broadly speaking, we
do not want – we dislike intensely, a war with China. But that is not within
our control. Therefore, we have to prepare for the contingency. We are growing
stronger to face it.”6 He
remarked India being in a stronger situation than China, describing China’s internal
situation to be explosive and being pulled down by its own bad harvests.

By the end of that year, Indian
prime minister Nehru sent a protesting message to Chou En-Lai concerning the
Chinese maps, without specifically mentioning the military road of Aksai Chin
as a part of China. Nehru prompted Chou to discuss more regarding no border
disputes between them.  Nehru additionally
asserted that these desolated mountain regions were always a part of the Indian
territory, and there was no need for further disagreement about them.  As a courteous reply, Chou pointed out that the
proposal of the region and boundary had never been officially accepted upon by
the government.  Additionally, Chou explained
Nehru that the Chinese authorities had never recognized the McMahon Line, and
that it was only a result of the British aggression. In the reply to Nehru, Chou
was particularly unwavering about Aksai Chin, stating that the territory had
always been a Chinese province and it has been under regular surveillance by
the Chinese border security.

During early 1956, the Chinese
army 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 remote
and highly desolate, it took the authorities until October 1957 to complete the
construction under the extreme conditions. The establishment of the highway was
quite unforthcoming for India that it wasn’t until September 1957, they learned
about it. In July 1958, India confirmed through printed Chinese maps, the new route
and the whole of Aksai Chin as part of the Chinese territory.5

While the Chinese assertion
seem in some cases to be based on uncertain grounds, the dispute was purely
theoretical until India’s independence and partition in 1947, which made the
new administration desperately conscious of declaring its rights to the utmost
extent. In response, the Chinese communist incursion of Tibet in 1950 showed great
effort by China to assert national dominance to a great measure.4 During
his visit to Peking in October 1954, the Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru
was confounded by the Chinese map showing 50 thousand square miles of Indian
territory as constituting part of China. The territorial claims were certainly unproven
and when it was brought to the attention of the Chinese leaders, they elucidated
that the maps were old and need not be taken sternly. Although India acknowledged
China’s claim to Tibet in 1954, introducing in a relatively affable period, the
forward policy adopted by prime minister Nehru in efforts to setup Indian
military outposts along Mc Mahon line led to border engagement from Chinese side,
resulting in skirmishes and crumbling relations.

Over time the border
issue became of lesser importance for both the countries. By 1947, India had
gained independence from the British rule and Pakistan was separated from
India. After the partition, the maps and borders of the Indian subcontinent
were redrawn, and India got engrossed with Pakistan, resolving border disagreements
of Kashmir. Meanwhile, China had pressing matters with the fall of emperor Pu
Yi. 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 of
China.3 These
major changes in the governments of both the Asian powers in the late 1940s
brought them to friendly relations by early 1950s. At this point, it may be well
to note that the Chinese quite clearly did not regard their asserted rights
over the cis – Himalayan region, which political circumstance had prevented
them from pressing between 1912 and 1951, and while the Chinese authority over
the region of Tibet was not an issue, the Indian sovereignty over the territory
was of much concern.

The British government of
India accepted that fact and settled for the time being, thus India’s control
over the border region became a low priority. Although India and China both
used different demarcations interchangeably, neither of them was particularly
concerned since the area was mostly uncolonized and served only as an
occasional trading route.

Although the immediate
cause of the war was the geographical dispute, the roots of the opposing
allegations go back to the British rule in India. Prior to 1914, the border
which lies between the trans-Himalayan regions, usually considered as Tibetan,
and the cis-Himalayan area of Assam was not well defined in specific terms. In
order to set up a new geographical frontier, a conference of British, Tibetan
and Chinese delegates was held in Shimla in 1913. There upon, a demarcation,
known as the McMahon Line was agreed upon between the British (representing
India) and Tibetan officials.2 But,
the Chinese never signed, nor did they in other way indicate the acceptance of
the proposed border, or even the legal power of the Tibetan government to enter
global trades without their approval. Instead, China insisted for sovereignty
all the way to Indian side of the region, which left a disputed zone of 5500
square miles.

Among all, one of the
most unjustified events in the global history of India was the Sino – Indian
war. Since the beginning, China and India have been two Asian colossuses. The
war between the two most populous countries started in the end days of October
1962, the origin of which was the dispute caused over the captivating interest
in the high regions of Aksai Chin.1 This
Himalayan 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 part
of Xinjiang. Although major changes in both countries’ government in the early
1950s brought them to genial relations, intrusions and military strategic
projections, including a Chinese military highway, into each other’s claimed
territory, caused friction between them and eventual war in October 1962.