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Monday, October 5, 2009

Will Beijing repeat 1962?

After about half-a-century, India-China skirmishes have once again started surfacing obviously much to the discomfort and restlessness of India. China would never like India to grow into a super power. In that case the bells of alarm could ring on the doors of Beijing.

During the last about two decades India  has made tremendous progress in several fields of life but for certain drawbacks which New Delhi has not been able to fully over come despite its frantic efforts. This bleak side of the picture includes uncontrollable explosion of population, rampant corruption, unabated communal clashes and inhuman exploitation of lower classes of the society at the hands of rich people belonging to  high castes.

China, on the other hand, apparently doesn’t have such class-ridden society and there are no people living in penury though its population is more than that of India.

What ails China is that it has certain doubts that India might soon emerge as a super power which could pose a threat  at some appropriate point of time to Beijing which is still boosting of its victory over India in 1962 Indo-china war and is haunting Indian government with its persistent claim that Arunachal Pradesh is a part of  China. This false claim is categorically rejected by the Indian government and genuinely so.

It is generally believed that the death of Jawaharlal Nehru in May 1964 was due to his receiving an unbearable  shock of Chinese invasion with whom India had forged a historical  friendship brought about thought the Panchsheel and Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai.

For the Sino-Indian War  that broke out in 1962, the disputed Himalayan border was the main pretext for this conflict, but other issues also played a role. There had been a series of violent border incidents after the 1959 Tibetan uprising, when India had granted asylum to the Dalai Lama. Under a Forward Policy, India placed outposts along the border, including several of them north of the McMahon Line. The eastern portion of a Line of Actual Control was proclaimed by Chinese Premier Chou Enlai in 1959.

The Chinese launched simultaneous offensives in Ladakh and across the McMahon Line on 20 October 1962, coinciding with the Cuban Missile Crisis. Chinese troops advanced over Indian forces in both areas, capturing Rezang la in Chushul in the western sector, as well as Tawang on the eastern side. The war ended when the Chinese declared a ceasefire on 20 November 1962, and later withdrew from the disputed area.

The Sino-Indian War is notable for the harsh conditions under which much of the fighting took place, entailing large-scale combat at altitudes of over 4,250 meters (14,000 feet). This presented enormous logistics problems for both sides. The Sino-Indian War was also noted for the non-deployment of navy or air force by either the Chinese or the Indian side.

Since then Indo-Chinese relationship has all through been changing with shift in their foreign policies. China is also not prepared to take it lying low that New Delhi and Washington have of late come much closer to each other than ever before.

In his book, The Fear of China, Gregory Clark recalls: “The Chinese attack of October 1962 has led to an almost complete breakdown in relations between China and India. The level of each country's diplomatic representation in the other has been greatly reduced. Many thousands of Chinese nationals have been expelled from India. The few Indian nationals living in China have, in one way or the other, been forced to leave. Border incidents have continued. Both sides have launched extreme propaganda campaigns against each other, the Chinese denouncing Nehru as a representative of the "big bourgeoisie" and a tool for U. S. aggressive designs against Tibet, while the Indians denounce the Chinese for having aggressive, imperialist designs against Indian territory. Both sides have gone to great lengths to discredit each other inter- nationally. Both sides have increased their military preparedness along the Himalayan frontier, particularly India, which has doubled its military budget to a level it cannot afford.

The recent intelligence reports confirm a massive defense preparation of the Peoples Liberation Army along with its north-eastern borders.

Big wigs in the Indian army are concerned about the situation after confirming that Chinese army did make intrusions into the Indian territory from frontier region of Ladakh and also violated its air space recently. The exercise might be continuing even now.

China’s latest decision to issue stapled visa,  not stamped on the passports, to the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir State is looked as the revival of their plank that this State is not an integral part of the Indian Union. This decision is quite intriguing and has irked the Indian authorities. Chinese officials in their embassy in New Delhi however assert that this kind of separate visa is being issued also to the people of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh and is conveniently accepted by the Indian immigration officials at the New Delhi international airport. With regard to the citizens of Jammu & Kashmir, New Delhi airport staff does not recognise the stapled visa papers and ask the visa holders to go back and get the visa properly stamped on their valid passports.

Here in Kashmir, this act is having mixed response from different political quarters. The secessionist Hurriyat Conference has hailed it as China’s genuine assertion of their policy  of not recognising the J&K state as part and parcel of India.

One cannot but be concerned about the deteriorating relationship between New Delhi and Beijing and there are no signs in sight of its turning friendly, normal and cordial.
In his recently published book,

President Bill Clinton has cautioned that in case of an  outbreak of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan, the Pakistani state shall be entirely wiped off from the map of the world whereas in India, 500 million of its people, about half of the country’s population, shall be killed. The ramifications of this new holocaust can be imagined in the present scenario, with fright and horror.

The Indian air force chief has categorically assured that there shall be no repetition of 1962 between China and India. Let’s hope so.

Author can be reached at: gulkhayal@yahoo.co.uk

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