Sunday, September 4, 2011

When Khrushchev took India's side

A few years ago the Cold War International History Project of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars published this discussion between Khrushchev and Mao in October 1959, six months after the uprising in Lhasa which forced the Dalai Lama to take refuge in India.
In August 1959, an armed clash occured at a border post called Longju on the McMahon Line. An Indian border guard was killed leading to an outburst of public suspicion against China.
In this conversion, Khrushchev mentions this incident.  
A few days after the clash, Zhou Enlai, the Chinese Premier had given his version of the clash, in a letter to Nehru, the Indian Prime Minister: 
Since the outbreak of the rebellion in Tibet, however, the border situation has become increasingly tense owing to reasons for which the Chinese side cannot be held responsible. Immediately after the fleeting of a large number of Tibetan rebels into India. Indian troops started pressing forward steadily across the eastern section of the Sino-Indian boundary. Changing unilaterally the long-existing state of the border between the two countries, they not only overstepped the so-called McMahon Line as indicated in the map attached to the secret notes exchanged between Britain and the Tibet local authorities, but also exceeded the boundary drawn in current Indian maps which is alleged to represent the so-called McMahon Line, but which in many places actually cuts even deepeer into Chinese territory than the McMahon Line. Indian troops invaded and occupied Longju, intruded into Yashar, and are still in occupation of Shatze, Khinzemane and Tamaden-all of which are Chinese territory-shielding armed Tibetan rebel bandits in this area.
...Nevertheless, the Indian Government has directed all sorts of groundless charges against the Chinese Government, clamouring that China has committed aggression against India and describing the Chinese frontier guards' act of self-defence in the Migyitun areas as armed provocation. Many political figures and propaganda organs in India have seized the occasion' to make a great deal of anti-Chinese utterances. The fact that India does not recognise the undelimited state of the Sino-Indian boundary and steps up bringing pressure to bear on China militarily, diplomatically and through public opinion cannot but make one suspect that it is the attempt of India to impose upon China its one-sided claims on the boundary question. It must be pointed out that this attempt will never succeed and 'such action cannot possibly yield any results other than impairing the friendship of the two countries, further complicating the boundary question and making it more difficult to settle.
A few days later, Nehru answered: 
You have suggested in your letter that the Government of India have applied all sorts of pressure on the Chinese Government, including the use of force, to make the Chinese Government accept the Indian demand: This is the reverse of what the Government of India did. We did not release to the public the information which we had about the various border intrusions into our territory by Chinese personnel since 1954, the construction of a road across Indian territory in Ladakh, and the arrest of our personnel in the Aksai Chin area in 1958 and their detention. We did not give publicity to this in the hope that peaceful solutions of the disputes could be found by agreement by the two countries without public excitement on both sides. In fact our failure to do so has now resulted in sharp but legitimate criticism of the Government both in Parliament and in the press in our country. Far from using force, we sought the peaceful settlement of the disputes. You must be aware of the prolonged negotiations between the Indian and Chinese representatives over Bara Hoti in 1958 and of the notes exchanged between our two Governments on the other disputes. I need hardly tell you ' that there is great resentment in India at the action of your troops in overpowering our outpost in Longju on our side of the McMahon Line, and although you have up till now not withdrawn your troops have not sought to reoccupy the post.
Here are the views of the Soviet and Chinese Presidents on the issue.

Discussion between N.S. Khrushchev and Mao Zedong on current political situations in Tibet, India, Indochina and Taiwan.
Present at the conversation:
Soviet side: M.A. Suslov and A.A. Gromyko accompanied Khrushchev. 
Chinese side: Deputy Chairmen of the CC CCP Liu Shaoqi, Zhao Enlai and Lin Biao; Members of the Politburo Peng Zhen and Chen Yi; Member of the Secretariat Wan Xia Sang were with Mao
Khrushchev: Today, together with Comrades M.A. Suslov and A.A. Gromyko, I paid a visit to Mao Zedong at his request in his residency.
Date: 3 October 1959

Khrushchev: I am telling about all this to show you that for us this territorial issue was not insurmountable. You have had good relations with India for many years. Suddenly, here is a bloody incident, as result of which [Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal] Nehru found himself in a very difficult position. We may say that Nehru is a bourgeois statesman. But we know about it. If Nehru leaves, who would be better than him? The Dalai Lama fled from Tibet, he is a bourgeois figure. This issue is also not clear for us. When the events in Hungary took place, then Nehru was against us, and we did not take offense at him, because we did not expect anything from him as a bourgeois statesman. But although he was against it, this did not prevent us from preserving good relations with him. If you let me, I will tell you what a guest should not say the events in Tibet are your fault. You ruled in Tibet, you should have had your intelligence [agencies] there and should have known about the plans and intentions of the Dalai Lama. 

Mao Zedong: Nehru also says that the events in Tibet occurred on our fault. Besides, in the Soviet Union they published a TASS declaration on the issue of conflict with India. 

N.S. Khrushchev: Do you really want us to approve of your conflict with India? It would be stupid on our part. The TASS declaration was necessary. You still seem to be able to see some difference between Nehru and me. If we had not issued the TASS declaration, there could have been an impression that there was a united front of socialist countries against Nehru. The TASS declaration turned this issue into one between you and India.

Mao Zedong: Our mistake was that we did not disarm the Dalai Lama right away. But at that time we had no contact with the popular masses of Tibet.

N.S. Khrushchev: You have no contact even now with the population of Tibet. 

Mao Zedong: We have a different understanding of this issue. 

N.S. Khrushchev: Of course, that is why we raised this issue. One could also say the following: both you and we have Koreans who fled from Kim Il Sung. But this does not give us ground to spoil relations with Kim Il Sung, and we remain good friends. As to the escape of the Dalai Lama from Tibet, if we had been in your place, we would not have let him escape. It would be better if he was in a coffin. And now he is in India, and perhaps will go to the USA. Is this to the advantage of the socialist countries?

Mao Zedong: This is impossible; we could not arrest him then. We could not bar him from leaving, since the border with India is very extended, and he could cross it at any point. 

N.S. Khrushchev: It's not a matter of arrest; I am just saying that you were wrong to let him go. If you allow him an opportunity to flee to India, then what has Nehru to do with it? We believe that the events in Tibet are the fault of the Communist Party of China, not Nehru's fault. 

Mao Zedong: No, this is Nehru's fault. 

N.S. Khrushchev: Then the events in Hungary are not our fault, but the fault of the United States of America, if I understand you correctly. Please, look here, we had an army in Hungary, we supported that fool Rakosi - and this is our mistake, not the mistake of the United States.

N.S. Khrushchev: If you like, you can to a certain degree. 

Mao Zedong: The Hindus acted in Tibet as if it belonged to them. 

N.S. Khrushchev: We know. As you know, Nepal wanted to have a Soviet ambassador, but we did not send there for a long time. You did the same. This is because Nehru did not want that Soviet and Chinese ambassadors were there. This should not come as a surprise - nothing else can be expected from Nehru. But this should not be a ground for us for breaking off the relations. 

N.S. Khrushchev: Why did you have to kill people on the border with India?

Mao Zedong: How can you compare Rakosi to the Dalai Lama?

Mao Zedong: We also support Nehru, but in the question of Tibet we should crush him.

Mao Zedong: They attacked us first, crossed the border and continued firing for 12 hours.

Zhou Enlai: What data do you trust more, Indian or ours? 

N.S. Khrushchev: Although the Hindus attacked first, nobody was killed among the Chinese, and only among the Hindus. 

Zhou Enlai: But what we are supposed to do if they attack us first. We cannot fire in the air. The Hindus even crossed the McMahon line. Besides, in the nearest future [Indian] Vice President [Savrepalli] Radhakrishnan comes to China. This is to say that we are undertaking measures to resolve the issue peacefully, by negotiations. In my letter of 9 September to Nehru we provided detailed explanations of all that had occurred between India and us.

N.S. Khrushchev: Comrade Zhou Enlai. You have been Minister of Foreign Affairs of the PRC for many years and know better than me how one can resolve disputed issues without [spilling] blood. In this particular case I do not touch at all the issue of the border, for if the Chinese and the Hindus do not know where the borderline goes between them, it is not for me, a Russian, to meddle. I am only against the methods that have been used.

Zhou Enlai: We did not know until recently about the border incident, and local authorities undertook all the measures there, without authorization from the center. Besides, we are talking here about three disputed regions between China and India. The Hindus were the first to cross the McMahon line and were the first to open fire. No government of China ever recognized the McMahon line. If, for instance, the Finns attacked the borders of the USSR, wouldn't you retaliate? 

Read on...

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