Is Australian journalist Neville Maxwell’s statement that India was the aggressor state in Sino-Indian War of 1962 correct?
Maxwell’s book was widely praised in an unlikely range of opinions, from A.J.P. Taylor to Zhou Enlai, and has the reputation of having eased the Sino-American entente of 1972. Even Henry Kissinger is reported to have said at the time that, if he had known the facts of the dispute earlier, his image of Beijing as inherently aggressive would have weakened, together with his support for US intervention in Indochina. Former US secretary for defence Robert McNamara has also confirmed that the Washington view of China as aggressive was the key factor behind that intervention, with its three million deaths in Vietnam plus another million or so deaths elsewhere in Indochina.
The entire affair was, in the words of Lemony Snicket, a series of unfortunate events that occurred in roughly this order:
- The Treaty of Westphalia established the principle of international law that each nation state has sovereignty over its territory and domestic affairs, to the exclusion of all external powers, on the principle of non-interference in another country’s domestic affairs, and that each state (no matter how large or small) is equal in international law. The doctrine is named after the Peace of Westphalia, signed in 1648, which ended the Thirty Years’ War, in which the major continental European states – the Holy Roman Empire, Spain, France, Sweden and the Dutch Republic – agreed to respect one another’s territorial integrity. Unfortunately, nobody told the Asian countries about this and they continued with their ancient custom of leaving borders largely undefined.
- The British drew the McMahon Line in 1914 to mark their idea of where India ended and China began. Unfortunately, neither China nor any other nation was a party to this cheeky piece of imperialism but the whole matter lay fallow until..
- India became independent and..
- China suppressed an uprising in Tibet after the Dalai Lama reneged on a treaty giving his country considerable autonomy, which caused India to lose the influence over Tibet which they had inherited from the British (in fact, they still employed British agents to maintain ‘Indian’ presence there) which caused..
- Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s Prime Minister, to assert that everything within the McMahon Line was “sacred Indian soil” (though few Indians even knew of the existence of the border lands).
- The Chinese agreed to 90% of the McMahon line but pointed out that some of it clearly crossed Chinese territory in the Aksai Chin (where the people were Tibetan and Chinese and through which ran a critical road connecting Tibet to Xinjiang) and proposed that the two countries negotiate, but…
- Nehru refused to negotiate unless China first withdrew from the Aksai Chin. China proposed a 20km pullback on both sides but Nehru refused, told the Indian Parliament and the people that China had invaded India and..
- Ordered the Indian Army to adopt a “forward policy”, to advance into the territory where the Chinese were encamped and to attack them if they resisted the advance. He and the Indian High Command told the public that the Chinese would flee before the Indian forces. He ignored three strategically vital facts:
- Indian access to the disputed area was through a trackless wilderness that ascended from steaming jungle to 14,00o feet via almost vertical cliff faces interrupted by sharp ridges and
- China’s access was via a short, downhill walk from a 7-ton roadhead and
- A division of well-equipped, high-altitude Chinese troops had been stationed there for years, with the result that..
- A few regiments of Indian troops, neither acclimated, clothed, or equipped for high-altitude warfare spent the best part of a year reaching the disputed area and..
- The theater commander, General Kaul (who had no combat experience), left his troops in the Aksai Chin and commanded the operation from his living room in Delhi and..
- Ignored the intelligence of his subordinates in the theater and who did have combat experience when they told him that the campaign was militarily impossible, so..
- When the thinly clothed Indian forces – armed only with WWI Lee Enfield .303 single-shot rifles and 50 rounds each – advance on the warmly-dressed, well-fed, well armed (heavy machine guns, automatic rifles, heavy mortars, artillery), battle-hardened Chinese they were quickly defeated. Afterwards many Indian soldiers were found frozen to death while others, armed only with bayonets, were cut down as they charged fortified positions. This resulted in..
- A national panic in India as entire states were ordered evacuated in preparation for the expected Chinese conquest of northeast India – as US Ambassador Galbraith describes in Ambassador’s Journal: A Personal Account of the Kennedy Years, Western media blaming China for ‘invading India’ and sending military aid to prevent India being overrun but..
- China returned its Indian captives and their arms, retreated 20 km, and asked to resume negotiations. This was, in the words of Britain’s Permanent Undersecretary at the Foreign Office, “the first time in recorded history that a great power has not exploited military success by demanding something more” and also resulted in..
- Nehru telling Parliament that China had stabbed India in the back and that India would never relinquish its unilateral claim to the Aksai Chin. This has resulted in..
- The bad feeling that exists today towards China.
For anyone interested, read Neville Maxwell’s book, India’s China War, because it embodies the Henderson Brooks Report, an analysis of the war commissioned by the Indian High Command and not otherwise available. For a first-hand from an Indian brigadier who stayed with his men to fight, read Brigadier J.P. Dalvi’s aptly titled memoir, Himalayan Blunder: The Curtain-Raiser to the Sino-Indian War of 1962.
Tibetan society became Buddhist after the Chinese Princess Wencheng (and, though there is no evidence for it, the Nepali Princess, Bhrikuti Devi who is credited with founding the Jokhang Temple – the oldest Buddhist temple in Tibet) introduced Buddhism to the Tibetan elite. The Princess and her entourage, which numbered about 500 people, intermarried with the local elite and from the Princess established the Songsten Gampo blood line, which survives to this day.
Until 1959, most Tibetans were indentured serfs (chapa) or slaves (langsheng) who were bought and sold. Tibet was the last country to officially abandon slavery, and then only because it was forced to do so by the Chinese Government.
Most of our information about Tibet comes from expatriate slave-owners and nobles who refused to free their slaves and left Tibet in 1959. The US Civil War demonstrates the powerful attraction that slavery holds for the owners. read more
Behind Dalai Lama’s Holy Cloak: Good intentions, questionable outcomes. If you want to know about the Dalai Lama, follow the money…
Melbourne Age. Michael Backman. May 23, 2007. Photo: AFP
The Dalai Lama has been an American agent for decades. Michael Blackman investigated his finances for the Melbourne Age newspaper:
Rarely do journalists challenge the Dalai Lama.
Partly it is because he is so charming and engaging. Most published accounts of him breeze on as airily as the subject, for whom a good giggle and a quaint parable are substitutes for hard answers. But this is the man who advocates greater autonomy for millions of people who are currently Chinese citizens, presumably with him as head of their government. So, why not hold him accountable as a political figure?