With the 50th an­niver­sary of the 1962 in­va­sion ap­proach­ing, his­tory is in dan­ger of re­peat­ing

India Today - - THE BIG STORY -

As the 50th an­niver­sary of China’s in­va­sion ap­proaches, his­tory is in dan­ger of re­peat­ing it­self, with Chi­nese mil­i­tary pres­sures and ag­gres­sive de­signs against In­dia not only mir­ror­ing the pre-1962 war sit­u­a­tion but also ex­tend­ing to Pak­istan-oc­cu­pied Kash­mir ( POK) and the oceans around In­dia. China’s ex­pand­ing axis of evil with Pak­istan, in­clud­ing a new troop pres­ence in POK, height­ens In­dia’s vul­ner­a­bil­ity in Jammu and Kash­mir, even as In­dia has beefed up its de­fences in Arunachal Pradesh.

By muscling up to In­dia, what is China seek­ing to achieve? The present sit­u­a­tion, omi­nously, is no dif­fer­ent in sev­eral key aspects from the one that pre­vailed in the run-up to the 1962 war.

The aim of “Mao’s In­dia war” in 1962, as Har­vard scholar Rod­er­ick Mac­far­quhar has called it, was largely po­lit­i­cal: to cut In­dia to size by de­mol­ish­ing what it rep­re­sented—a demo­cratic al­ter­na­tive to China’s au­toc­racy. The swift­ness and force with which Mao Ze­dong de­feated In­dia helped dis­credit the In­dian model, boost China’s im­age, and con­sol­i­date Mao’s in­ter­nal power. The re­turn of the China-in­dia pair­ing decades later riles Bei­jing.

Just as the Dalai Lama’s flight to In­dia in 1959 set the stage for the Chi­nese mil­i­tary at­tack, the ex­iled Ti­betan leader to­day has be­come a big­ger chal­lenge for China than ever. The con­tin­u­ing se­cu­rity clam­p­down across the Ti­betan plateau since the March 2008 Ti­betan upris­ing par­al­lels the harsh Chi­nese crack­down in Ti­bet dur­ing 1959-62.

The pre­vail­ing pat­tern of cross-fron­tier in­cur­sions and other bor­der in­ci­dents is no dif­fer­ent to the sit­u­a­tion that led up to the 1962 war. Yet, In­dia is re­peat­ing the same mis­take by play­ing down the Chi­nese in­tru­sions. Gra­tu­itously stretch­ing the truth, In­dian of­fi­cials say the in­cur­sions are the re­sult of dif­fer­ing per­cep­tions about the line of con­trol. But which side has re­fused to de­fine the line of con­trol? It speaks for it­self that China hasn’t of­fered this ex­cuse. The fact is that Chi­nese forces are in­trud­ing even into Utt­tarak­hand—the only sec­tor where the line of con­trol has been clar­i­fied by an ex­change of maps—and into

From a mil­i­tary in­va­sion and car­to­graphic ag­gres­sion, China is mov­ing to hy­dro­log­i­cal ag­gres­sion and a strate­gic squeeze of In­dia.

Sikkim, whose 206-km bor­der with Ti­bet is recog­nised by Bei­jing.

The 1962 war oc­curred against the back­drop of China in­sti­gat­ing and arm­ing in­sur­gents in In­dia’s North-east. Although such Chi­nese ac­tiv­i­ties ceased af­ter Mao’s death, China has come full cir­cle to­day, with Chi­ne­se­made arms in­creas­ingly flow­ing into guer­rilla ranks in north-east In­dia via Burmese front or­gan­i­sa­tions. In fact, Pak­istan-based ter­ror­ists tar­get­ing In­dia also rely on Chi­nese arms.

China’s pre-1962 psy­cho­log­i­cal war is re­turn­ing. In re­cent years, Bei­jing has em­ployed its state-run me­dia and na­tion­al­is­tic web­sites to warn of an­other armed con­flict. It is a throw­back to the coarse rhetoric China had used in its build-up to the 1962 war. Its

Peo­ple’s Daily, for ex­am­ple, has warned In­dia to weigh “the con­se­quences of a po­ten­tial con­fronta­tion with China”. China mer­rily builds strate­gic projects in an in­ter­na­tion­ally dis­puted area like POK but re­sponds with crude threats when other na­tions ex­plore just for oil.

Just as In­dia in the early 1960s re­treated to a de­fen­sive po­si­tion in the bor­der ne­go­ti­a­tions af­ter hav­ing un- der­mined its lever­age through a for­mal ac­cep­tance of the “Ti­bet re­gion of China”, the spot­light now is on China’s re­vived Ti­bet-linked claim to Arunachal Pradesh rather than on the core is­sue, Ti­bet it­self. In­dia, with its fo­cus on process than re­sults, has re­mained locked in con­tin­u­ous bor­der ne­go­ti­a­tions with China since 1981— the long­est and the most fruit­less process be­tween any two na­tions postSe­cond World War. This process has only aided China’s con­tain­ment-with­en­gage­ment strat­egy.

In the same way that In­dia un­der Nehru un­wit­tingly cre­ated the con­text to em­bolden Bei­jing to wage ag­gres­sion, New Delhi is again star­ing at the con­se­quences of a mis­man­age­ment of



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