China is and has always been an expansionist and aggressive neighbour whose growing military ambitions and close proximity with Pakistan and warming up to Russia and Srilanka cannot be wished away by India anymore.
Back then the British had cleverly made Tibet a buffer zone to safeguard the northern frontiers of British India by signing the Anglo Tibetan Treaty in 1904 with Dalai Lama thereby restricting concessions to other foreign powers and gaining direct influence over the foreign policy of Tibet.
In 1910, China invaded Tibet and Dalai Lama fled to India but returned back in 1912 and drove out the Chinese garrisons after the Chinese Revolution had weakened China’s power politics.
In the 1914 pact of Simla Convention Tibet refused to acclaim China as its authority and forced China to accept an autonomous Tibet with fixed frontiers but China did not ratify this agreement and did not accept the inner outer Tibet boundaries and never endorsed the Mc.Mahon Line.
From 1912-1950 there were no more Chinese attacks on Tibet as at that time the British dominated the world politics and China was weak and hence did not confront.
In World War II Tibet chose to remain neutral and resisted Chinese pressure to open up Tibet for war communications.
Effectively Tibet never accepted the suzerainty of China but was time and again grabbed by conquest. For centuries India and Tibet lived peacefully without any defined land demarcations but with a hostile neighbour like China the British had smelt danger and hence they made Tibet as a buffer zone to protect the northern frontiers which we naturally inherited after independence.
Post-independence India was busy trumpeting her new found freedom and laden with formulating her constitution, while Nehru championed against colonialism but gave our manes in UN’s grip by messing up Kashmir, China declared to annex Tibet in 1950. Tibet sought our help but we refused to intervene as we were a peace loving nation ready to risk our strategic defence fronts the British had created on the northern borders altering our geo-political balance. Tibet appealed the matter to the UN, on 23rd November 1950 when the Tibetan appeal came for discussion in the UN general assembly; the Indian delegate opposed the inclusion of the question on the agenda and insisted that the matter be settled peacefully between Tibet and China as they were historically associated.
The matter was dropped!
Contrast this with India’s appeal to the UN today about Lakhvi’s release, China has openly supported Pakistan _ this surely does not come as an aftershock because China is known for its treachery and Pakistan for its imperial slavery whose power politics take birth and die in the queen’s abode.
In 1950 we advocated our own disaster by supporting China’s cause in the UN which they wilfully justified that their action was only a measure to contain the western plots to turn Tibet into an American base and prevent imperialism from invading an inch of their territory.
After the 1947 war of India and Pakistan, Pakistan confronted us yet again in 1951 only to realise that they were no match for India after which it did some serious thinking in order to free themselves from any kind of future intimidations from India, hence in 1953 Pakistan signed the Mutual-Aid treaty with USA and joined its security pacts of CENTO and SEATO. Pakistan traded its military bases in exchange for military aid as Pakistan on the southern boundaries of Russia was an invaluable base for the US troops too. Pakistan’s military coffers were filled with American aid _ money, construction of military accommodation, Patton Tanks, F-86 fighter aircrafts, radar equipment, medium and heavy artillery guns and latest weapons.
When the US and Pakistan scratched each other’s back Nehru used his ultimate weapon _ he expressed dissent over this, America offered aid to us without any strings but we refused it as we were a peace loving country and philosophically thought that we could be free from power politics of the world.
Pakistan is a crucial ally for America to keep Russia at bay and to keep India from overriding them hence we can almost forget resolving the Kashmir issue with a UN support unless India really builds up as a military and economic superpower.
While India was just scrambling with ineffective and indecisive policies and resources, burning with the Kashmir issue, seeking the UN mediation and the world’s sympathy _ China was silently patrolling and building roads and airfields in Tibet, educating and indoctrinating bright young Tibetans in China who came back to be more communist than the Chinese themselves in key administrative roles in Tibet, by 1953 all important towns were connected by telegraph and by 1954 China had been linked with Tibet by two major roads, opposite to NEFA they had built a 3ton road and a railway line was also contemplated.
In 1954 we signed the Panch Sheel agreement with China and recognised China’s control and formally wrote off Tibet in return for China’s good behaviour by voluntarily giving up our military, communication and postal rights in Tibet but failed to get a reciprocal benefit of settling the border agreement because the Indian diplomacy and political acumen was on its deathbed.
Nehru visited China in 1954 and came back impressed with a grand reception thinking that Chinese noodles were indeed tasty and healthy and even advocated her name in the world body. But just after the Panch Sheel agreement there was a border incident when China claimed Bara-Hoti was Chinese territory, this warning, India had failed to read!
It was only in 1956 when China refused to accept the Mc.Mahon Line we first conceded that China was a threat to us but still did nothing. We neither prepared or resisted nor made concessions. We did not debate or discuss seeking public opinion, did not build or ready or strengthen the military forces and refused to realise that History Politics Policies and Strategy are interlinked. We were napping with un-readiness to counter a first class ruthless power with love, peace and hopes. Yet Nehru chose to extoll Sino-Indian friendship of 2000years while China was slyly surveying routes to Aksai Chin at that time and we remained ignoramus until in 1957 when China announced that they had built roads on the Indian Territory and would soon open these routes for trade. We sent an investigating team of which one was arrested by the Chinese but Nehru did not reveal this humiliating incident in the parliament as he thought that the time was not right.
We had fearfully or foolishly or both seemed to meekly accept and build a national policy of China appeasement to hide our political incompetence, diplomatic oversight and military negligence by simply singing ‘Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai’ banking on hopes and Chinese assertions that they would not attack us.
Perhaps it was the mind slavery that Indians suffered that led us to such a low self-esteem then, because although Tibet was a much smaller state they did retaliate, when China invaded Tibet and compelled Dalai Lama to accept the 17 point agreement breaking its pledge to respect Tibet’s autonomy, the Dalai Lama government rejected this agreement on 11th March 1959 provoking a full scale military assault by the Chinese, during this time of crisis Tibet sought India’s help and intervention but we refused and counselled them to adopt slavery and subservience in the name of peace. Then, Dalai Lama had this to say about Nehru “ The worldly wise who by their lack of courage and faith block the progress of human race not towards the moon but towards humanity itself, these persons have a myopic view and forget that nothing stands still in history, not even the Chinese Empire”…
On 8th September 1962 China intruded India into the Thagla River area but we dismissed it as minor border incident. Still we did not carry staff studies or reorganise our field formations nor studied the pattern of weapons or communication equipment nor were any mountain warfare orientations initiated for the army staff because our heads never anticipated anything like this.
At 5am on 20th October 1962, the Chinese army stormed and swept the Namka Chu Valley and intruded a good 160miles inside India and struck terror for 30 lightening days completely checkmating an unprepared and disoriented India that thrust its un-acclimatized, untrained and ill equipped army in front of a massive trained and well equipped army who outnumbered us in numbers and weapons who cleared the route to Assam in just 3hours.
In spite of visionary warnings from General Joe Lentaigne, Shyama Prasad Mukerjee, Sardar Patel and General Kulwant Singh who clearly foresaw a draconian disaster from the dragon state and came up with detailed reports on this mounting threat from the Chinese to our Northern frontiers it was ignored by the then governing trio Pandit Nehru, V.K.Krishna Menon and B.M.Kaul the commanding army general who overlooked the gravity of the military situation which snowballed and consumed our national pride and international status, buried and stalled our economic progress almost nullifying a decade’s developments.
As Brig.Dalvi points out in his book ‘Himalayan Blunder’ that a powerful China has always been an expansionist and ambitious China which India still does not seem to understand.
What is the use of past if we don’t learn from history?
If you look at the Chinese strategy then and now it remains the same, even after Modi’s pompous visit to China recently there was a military line-up _ a show of strength by the Chinese army to nudge India, and now they have sided Pakistan in the UN against Lakhvi’s release. In the wake of current developments where China is blatantly siding Pakistan and wilfully militarizing airstrips in South China sea http://t.co/LDUO1Dgwkw and even proclaiming that Indian ocean cannot be India’s backyard http://t.co/QcrTdfj4wJ and keeps publishing wrong maps of Arunachal Pradesh indicating to India at every possible instance the military language of might it is only imperative that India keep its mitrathaa aside and practice diligently China’s policy of heavy self-reliance and self-strengthening strategies as we can never make the mistake of blindly banking on American goodwill or UN sympathy or even trust any long associated foreign power to bail it out in a growing hostile scenario of power race.
(Large references from J.P.Dalvi’s Himalayan Blunder’)