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1962 India-China Border War : CIA Documents Suggest Beijing’s Treachery


Apr 3, 2005
1962 India-China border war : CIA documents suggest Beijing’s treachery

Three sets of documents on the border dispute declassified by the CIA in Washington have detailed covert CIA operations at home and abroad. These top secret documents of March 1963 were approved for release only in May 2007. CIA analysts have blamed China for the 1962 war with India. The documents suggested that China and its then Premier, Zhou En-lai, “deceived” his Indian counterpart, Jawaharlal Nehru, and India through procrastination.

China has, however, rejected the charge and its Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said the comments were “groundless” and “positive progress” was being made on the boundary negotiations between the two countries.

The declassified CIA papers, said Nehru was consistently “taken for a ride” by the Chinese in the months and years prior to the 1962 war. According to the CIA, Zhou En-lai [then Chou En-lai] consistently impressed upon Nehru that Peking [now Beijing] had no territorial ambitions and that the maps the Chinese were using to portray vast tracks of Indian territory as theirs were “old” maps from the Kuomintang era which had not been revised. “This provided the Chinese Premier with a means for concealing Peking’s long-range intention of surfacing Chinese claims at some time in the future [when there would no longer be any necessity to deceptive about them] while avoiding a dispute with the Indian Prime Minister at the present”, the CIA document said.

According to CIA analysis, the developments between 1950 and late 1959 were marked by Chinese military superiority which, combined with “cunning diplomatic deceit” contributed for nine years to New Delhi’s reluctance to change its policy from friendship to open hostility towards the Peking regime. It emerges that above all others, Nehru himself – with his view that the Chinese Communist leaders were amenable to gentlemanly persuasion – refused to change this policy until long after Peking’s basic hostility made him rethink his China policy”, the CIA analysis said.

Even today, political observers point out, while the Chinese leadership is openly flouting the 2005 guidelines on resolving the border issue, the Indian Government is out to appease them. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gushingly told China’s President Hu Jintao, barely weeks after Beijing reiterated its territorial claims to Arunachal Pradesh that the “people” of India regarded China as their “greatest” neighbour.

Referring to the declassified CIA document on 1962 war and the double-speak of Zhou En-lai at that time, foreign affairs analyst G. Parthasarthy says, if Zhou was master of guile, the present-day mandarins who rule China are well versed in the use of national power to intimidate and “contain” neighbours. He wonders if Manmohan Singh had gone through President Hu Jintao’s biography and forgotten that as Governor of Tibet, Hu had dealt with Tibetan opposition ruthlessly and set the stage for a massive infrastructure build up that has resulted in a railroad connection between the Tibetan Autonomous Region and China’s heartland and an ever widening network of roads towards Nepal and India’s borders. This has been combined with strengthening of China’s defence capabilities along the Indo-Tibetan border in recent years.

The predecessors of Dr. Manmohan Singh too were equally responsible for downgrading security on the border with China. The 1988 visit of Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, to China brought the bonhomie which had disappeared since 1962, back to the bilateral relations. India went back into its world of illusions thinking that China would not repeat 1962. The dedicated role of the Special Security Bureau[SSB] was sought to be diluted on the ground that in view of the improvement in our relations with China, India no longer needed such a force. In the 1990s, when Narasimha Rao was the Prime Minister, a determined effort was made to place it directly under the Ministry of Home Affairs for using it in maintaining law and order in other parts of the country and to perform security duties on the Nepal border. The Government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee initiated the process of dismantling the intelligence-cum-security set-up created in Arunachal Pradesh in the wake of the 1962 debacle.

Till 1988, there used to be a close monitoring of the intelligence collection capabilities with regard to China. This has gradually gone into disuse after Rajiv Gandhi’s euphoric visit to China in 1988. One does not know whether in the light of the increasing Chinese obstinacy on the Tawang issue, a review has been made by the intelligence and security-related capabilities with relation to China. If not, observers say, this must be given urgent priority.

Political observers say this is not to suggest that the Chinese are itching for a confrontation along the Sino-Indian border. It does not suit China’s interests to provoke tensions with India or neighbours like Vietnam and the Philippines, with whom it has maritime boundary disputes. But, it would be entirely in keeping with overall Chinese policies to keep India uncertain about its intentions and nervous about its capabilities, leading to Indian diplomatic postures that show to the world that we are prepared to appease China.

Chinese claim to Tawang

Jawaharlal Nehru’s “Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai” dictum which was Indian diplomacy’s buzz word in the fifties, failed to stop the 1962 war. And now, forty-five years after the People’s Liberation Army overran Arunachal Pradesh, China is claiming not only Tawang but the whole of this North-Eastern State. The PLA retreated on its own in 1962 after reaching close to Tezpur in Assam, but has not been able to take its eyes off Arunachal Pradesh. Beijing claims 90,000 sq. km of Indian territory in the eastern sector as historically Tibet’s as its own. Indian defence sources say Chinese incursions in Upper Subansiri district have taken place more than 100 times between 1998 and 2000, though the Indian Army officially denies it.

The Chinese psychological game was there in 1962 and it continues. In the opening ceremony 9of the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi, a Chinese news agency criticized the inclusion of a lion dance of Arunachal in the cultural programme which Chinese claimed was theirs. In 1984, the Chinese denied visa to the then Arunachal Assembly Speaker, T.L. Rajkumar. He ultimately received a loose visa but the Chinese authorities refused to put the immigration stamp on it. Three IAS officers of Arunachal were also denied visa.

Yet, the people of Tawang rebuff China and say they are Indians. A HINDUSTAN TIMES correspondent visited Tawang to feel the pulse of the people there and reports that the people of this picturesque north-western Arunachal Pradesh regard themselves as “Indian” – in body and soul. “Not a soul in Tawang will ever support China. We are an inalienable part of India and the Indian society”, says Sangay Jampi, Secretary of Tawang’s famed Galden Namgyal Lhatsa monastery. The 400-year-old shrine wields tremendous influence on the lives of the local people who pay taxes for its upkeep.
Aug 17, 2009
I have read a book 'INDIA, TIBET AN CHINA' some years ago. That book was a wonderful eye cleaner in regards to this issue.



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