Sunday, September 30, 2012

China's Self-Defence War against India?

In continuation with my yesterday's posting about the Sleeping Burgerade, I am today posting five links to Chinese propaganda videos showing Beijing's version of the War.
Most of these videos are titled "self-defence against India", arguing that India attacked China in October 1962.
The two first ones (shorter) are in English (and also available on YouTube).
They mentioned the setting of the Dhola Post on the Namkha chu (river) on September 8, 1962 as the first Indian attack.
Some vivid images of the PoWs are shown, particularly Brig. John Dalvi (7 Infantry Brigade Commander) and Lt. Col. Maha Singh Rikh, the Commanding Officer (CO) of the 2 Rajput.
The fact that India has not a single photo or footage of the operations in Zimingthang, Walong and Ladakh sectors, while China seems to have hours of footage, shows that it was a premeditated and well-prepared attack from the part of China.

Video: 1962 self-defense war against India (part 1)
8 minutes in English
Also available on YouTube with a different title.

Video: 1962 self-defense war against India (in English part2)
8 minutes in English
Also available on YouTube with a different title.

Video: 1962 Sino-Indian war (in Chinese)
100 minutes in Chinese 

Video: full playback Chinese self-defense war against India
18 minutes in Chinese

Video: China to India's self-defense war
48 minutes in Chinese

Saturday, September 29, 2012

1962: The sleeping burgerade

The scene is an Indian prisoners of war’s camp in Tibet.
One morning in early 1963, Lt. Tong, a Chinese translator takes four senior Indian officers out for a walk. They are allowed to sit near a mud wall at the outskirts of the ancient monastery where they have been kept under confinement.
Tong does not let them peep over the wall, though they can hear voices speaking on the other side. A Hindi-speaking Chinese is addressing some Indian jawans. They debate the People’s Liberation Army’s pet subject since the capture of the Indians on the Thagla ridge a few months earlier; ‘admit that India attacked China first on October 20’, says the Chinese voice.
A jawan speaks; he tells the Chinese that his company was sleeping when the Chinese poured down the ridge. How could India have started the war while sleeping? The Chinese officer calmly explains once again to the jawan that he only thinks of his own unit; everywhere else India attacked and China had no choice but to retaliate in self-defense. But the jawan is fearless and outspoken, he tells his interlocutor: "I do not know what you are talking about, but I know that the whole of my ‘burgerade’, (Punjabi for ‘brigade’) was sleeping when you attacked us."
Indeed, everyone was sleeping when the Chinese mortars began shelling the bunkers on the Namkha chu (river) on that fateful morning.
Worse, the leadership in Delhi had also been sleeping (and dreaming of throwing out the Chinese from what they perceived was India’s territory).
Unfortunately, the non-sense of India attacking China still prevails in some Indian quarters today.

The Chinese have indeed been repeating ad nauseum to the world that it was Nehru who attacked them.
In the Introduction of his Himalayan Blunder, Brig. John Dalvi, the Commander of the ill-fated 7 Infantry Brigade writes: “On the night of 21st November 1962, I was woken up by the Chinese Major in charge of my solitary confinement with shouts of 'good news — good news'. He told me that the Sino-Indian War was over and that the Chinese Government had decided to withdraw from all the areas which they had overrun, in their lightning campaign. When I asked the reason for this decision he gave me this Peking [Beijing] inspired answer: “India and China have been friends for thousands of years and have never fought before. China does not want war. It is the reactionary Indian Government that was bent on war. So the Chinese counterattacked in self-defence and liberated all our territories in NEFA and Ladakh, in just one month.” He added: “We have proved that you are no match for mighty China”.
But where was the question of the Indian Army ‘attacking China’ with no food, no clothes, no armament or ammunition supply?
Apart from Chinese apologetics, who have simply repeated what they have been told to repeat, other sources have also confirmed that the Chinese leadership believed that India attacked. 
On November 8, 1962 Dr. Malcolm MacDonald, a former British High Commissioner to India met Robert Donhauser, the US Consul General in Singapore. During a business lunch, McDonald briefed the US official about his visit to the People's Republic of China and his lengthy discussions with Zhou Enlai and Marshal Chen Yi.
The US official later cabled Washington: “Chou [Zhou] took exception to UK position that Peiping [Beijing] was aggressor in border dispute. [Zhou] stated he realized UK must support India as member of Commonwealth but did not have to charge Chinese [of] aggression. He [Zhou] wished to go to conference table but India had made impossible demands prior to discussions, particularly since territory under dispute was not Indian, but Chinese. MacDonald, of course, upheld UK position.”
This brings two questions. Did the Chinese really believe that India had attacked China in the West Kameng district? Why pretend that it was Nehru who attacked when it is so obviously not true?
The answer is the Chinese probably knew that India was not prepared, further they wanted to teach ‘arrogant’ India a lesson for granting refuge to the Dalai Lama three years earlier.
On October 6, 1962, Mao Zedong addressed several senior Chinese generals in Beijing: “It seems like armed coexistence won't work. It’s just as we expected. Nehru really wants to use force. This isn't strange. He has always wanted to seize Aksai Chin and Thagla Ridge. He thinks he can get everything he desires.”
The Chairman continued: “Now the Indians want to fight a war with us. Naturally, we don't have fear. [But] we cannot lose ground; once we lose ground it would be tantamount to letting them seize a big piece of land equivalent to Fujian province. …Since Nehru sticks his head out and insists on us fighting him, for us not to fight with him would not be proper. Courtesy emphasizes reciprocity.”
Why? One of the reasons might be Operation Leghorn planned by a flamboyant new Corps Commander.
On October 3, Lt Gen Kaul took over Corps IV, a Corps especially created ‘to throw the Chinese out’. On his arrival in Tezpur, Kaul addressed the senior officers: “The Prime Minister himself had ordered these posts [near the Thagla ridge] to be set up and he had based his decision on the highest Intelligence advice.” The ‘intelligence’ inputs turned out to be a bad joke.
Niranjan Prasad commented: “Also, explicit in his reply [to officers] was a warning that failure or dragging of feet in completing the task could result in serious consequences for those responsible, in other words, for 4 Infantry Division. So that was that.”
It appears that the Chinese military intelligence had gathered that Indian forces were planning to start Operation Leghorn to occupy the Thagla Ridge on 10 October (the information was absolutely correct).
As today Beijing can enter any computer system, in Mao’s days, the Chinese intelligence knew everything about Kaul’s and his acolytes’ plans.
In his memoirs, Prasad recalls: “From our own Signals channels I had received reports of a pirate radio operating somewhere in our area, but when we referred this to higher authorities the matter was dismissed: we were curtly told that there was no pirate radio transmitter on our side of the border. Subsequently it was confirmed that the Chinese had indeed sneaked in a pirate transmitter to Chacko (on the road to Bomdila) in the Tibetan labour camp. The aerial of their transmitter was concealed as a tall prayer-flagstaff so common in the Buddhist belt of the Himalayas.”
This is probably how Mao was aware of Operation Op Leghorn.
But there was something else, the Indian officers on the ground had some doubts about the exact location of the boundary.
When on 14 August, 1962, Brigadier D.K. Palit, Director of Military Operations visited the Corps Headquarters in Tezpur, he told the officers that according to Intelligence input “there was little or no probability of the Chinese resorting to armed hostilities”. About the issue of the Thagla ridge, he said that though the Divisional Headquarters had sent a report on August 4 asking for confirmation of the boundary’s location, the Army Headquarters in Delhi had only received it the day before he left for Tezpur (14 August morning). He promised to look into this and send an answer ‘as soon as he could’.
In his insider’s assessment of the conflict, War in the High Himalayas, Brigadier Palit recalls the encounter: “On my return to Delhi I referred the Thagla dilemma to the Director of Military Survey. The latter commented that as the existing maps of the area were 'sketchy and inaccurate, having been compiled from unreliable sources', the map co-ordinates of the new post quoted by the patrol leader were of doubtful accuracy.”
Wanting to clarify the exact position, Palit went to meet Dr. S. Gopal, the Director of the Historical Section, who explained to him that since the boundary talks with the Chinese in 1960, the Government of India had been aware that the actual terrain in the area of the tri-junction was different from that depicted on the quarter-inch scale map Simla sheet.
But Palit added: “What Gopal had not told me — and I found out only later —was that the Chinese had not accepted our arguments and had counter-claimed Thagla ridge, as well as the valley at Khinzemane, as Chinese territory.”
If Mao was aware of these doubts, he would have used it as a pretext to say that India walked ‘into China’, but the fact remains the entire ‘buregade’, not to speak of the 4 Infantry Division, were sleeping that morning.
In any case, who attacked in the Eastern sector of NEFA (Walong) and Ladakh (Chushul), if not China?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Like father, like son. Here’s hoping that

Xi Zhongxun with Gyalo Thondup
My article Like father, like son. Here’s hoping that was published yesterday in The Pioneer. 

Xi Jinping is slated to be China's next leader. He did a Houdini act (though only for 12 days), while the entire world media speculated about his fate. Xi Jinping is the son of Xi Zhongxun, a well-known reformist

Our story starts with the arrival of Kang Sheng, a shady character, on the Chinese political stage in 1962.
In the Fall of 1962, during the Tenth Plenum of the 8th Party’s Congress, Mao violently attacked Vice-Premier Xi Zhongxun, accusing him of supporting the rehabilitation of Gao Gang, a Communist Party leader who has been purged in 1949.
Machiavellian Kang Sheng led the charge; he announced that Xi had been ‘investigated’ for his ‘anti-party activities’.
Dr. Li Zhuixi, Mao’s personal physician later wrote: “Kang Sheng's investigations implicated more than three hundred cadres from the party, government, and military.” This included Xi Zhongxun.
Dr. Li continued: “I knew Xi Zhongxun well, and the charges against him and his supporters were fabricated. But Kang Sheng's job was to depose and destroy his fellow party members, and his continuing ‘investigations’ of ranking party leaders in the early 1960s laid the groundwork for the attacks of the Cultural Revolution to come.”
Subsequently, Vice-Premier Xi Zhongxun disappeared from public view for 16 years.
Recently, when Xi Jinping, China’s next leader did a Houdini act (though only for 12 day, while the entire world media speculated about his fate) Zhongxun’s case came back to my mind. Xi Jinping is the son of Xi Zhongxun.
The main crime of Xi Sr. was to have been associated with Marshal Peng Dehuai, the solitary critic of Mao during the Great Leap Forward (45 million of Chinese died according to the latest figures of the largest-ever man-made disaster).
To attempt guessing the future of a Chinese leader, it is always tempting to look into his past or his lineage. Interestingly, the Chinese press never mentions Xi Jinping's childhood. When his father was ignominiously purged, he was just 9 year old. Such a trauma for a kid!
At the end of the 18th Party Congress in Beijing next month, Xi will be officially anointed General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and President of the PRC; a few months later, he will become Chairman of the Central Military Commission controlling an all-powerful People’s Liberation Army.
Though Xi Jr. is mentioned in cables released by Wikileaks, his relation with his father Xi Zhongxun seems to have been neglected.
Born in 1913 in Shaanxi, Xi, the Elder joined the Communist Youth League in May 1926 and the Communist Party of China in 1928. He rose to Deputy Prime Minister from 1959 to 1962 and was later Governor of Guangdong from 1979 to 1981.
The life of Older Xi may provide some hints about the direction China could take after the Party’s Congress next month. Xi Zhongxun had two lives (one before the Kang Sheng episode and the other after 1978, with a blank gap of 16 years in-between). You will understand why the official China media has been avoiding the issue.
During the first part of his life (mainly between 1949 and 1962), Xi Zhongxun was associated with one of the most remarkable leaders of modern China: Marshal Peng Dehuai. Once the Dalai Lama confided to me, “he was my favorite Chinese”. Peng was the only person who dared to take on Mao Zedong.
In the late 1940’s, while Peng was the Commander of the First Field Army whose responsibility was to look after Northwest China, Xi Zhongxun was Political Commissar. Along with the Second Northwest Field Army (led by General Lui Bosheng and Commissar Deng Xiaoping), Peng’s Army ‘liberated’ Tibet. From that time, Xi Zhongxun was associated with the main Tibetan leaders, particularly the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama.
As a representative of Mao, it was Xi who officially bid farewell to the Panchen Lama when the latter left for his maiden visit to Tibet in 1951 (born in Qinghai province, he had never visited Tibet before). He told the young Lama: “When you get back to Tibet, do not hurry to push various things. Please take account of the whole picture in Tibet. The priority is unity among Tibetans. Only when Tibetans unite can our work in Tibet really make progress." Apparently, Xi did not want to force a foreign ideology on the Tibetans: "everything in Tibet should follow the principle of cautious and steady progress. If conditions are not ripe for something, do not do it; if the upper-hierarchy patriotic public and leadership figures do not agree with it, do not do it.”
During the following years, Xi continued to work closely with Tibet and Peng, he was eventually nominated Vice-Premier of China. It is in 1954/55 that he was gifted an Omega watch by the Dalai Lama who visited Beijing for several months.
However, Xi’s fate took another turn during the Lushan Conference of July 1959, when Peng Dehuai, a native of Hunan came back from a tour of his province and decided to speak out against the Great Leap Forward, Mao’s grandiose scheme to overtake the West in 15 years. Peng told Mao in no uncertain terms that China was on the brink of the greatest calamity; as a result, he was purged and replaced as Defence Minister by the wily Lin Biao. Mao never forgave Peng for having spoken against the Great Leap Forward.
It is when Kang Sheng entered the stage.
In September 1962, during the 10th Plenum of the Party's of the 8th Party’s Central Committee, Mao, who had remained in the background after the Lushan Conference, decided to come back on the front stage. In one way, the Plenum marked the beginning of a movement which culminated in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution four years later. During the Plenum, Mao reemphasized class struggle ‘to prevent the emergence of revisionism’; he denounced 'the members of the bourgeoisie right in the party ranks'.
Mao reasserted that the Great Leap Forward was the right thing for China.
During the same Plenum, it was decided to ‘teach a lesson’ to India. The attack on India a month later, was for Mao and his new protégé Lin Biao a way to reassert their supremacy over Peng Dehuai, Lui Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping.
It was also the beginning of the end for the Panchen Lama who in July had sent his 70,000 character petition to Zhou Enlai detailing the suffering of the Tibetan people between 1959 and 1962. Mao called the petition 'a poisoned arrow shot at the Party by reactionary feudal overlords'. But the biggest casualty of the Plenum was Xi Jinping’s father. He was ‘fixed’ by Kang Sheng, Mao’s wily Inquisitor, under a bogus pretext; he had been too close of Peng Dehuai and in touch with the Panchen Lama. He was demoted and sent for 16 years into the ‘wilderness’.
After his rehabilitation in 1978, Xi Zhongxun became a trusted lieutenant of Deng Xiaoping and the Governor of Guangdong. Here, he was responsible for proposing and implementing China's first Special Economic Zone in Shenzhen. This experiment symbolized the new direction of Communist China. Xi is said to have told Deng Xiaoping "We need to reform China and implement this economic zone even if it means that we have to pave a bloody road ahead and I am to be responsible for it."
His biographers say that Old Xi is “remembered for his friendship to his colleagues, his tolerance to diverse cultures and religions, his idealism of an open market socialist country and his integrity in his beliefs”.
One understands that Xi Junior 'ate bitterness' during his youth. It must have marked him for years.
Will Xi Jinping emulate his father and bring new ‘reforms’ to China? It is a billion Yuan question.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

No air support to the 7 Infantry Brigade in 1962

 Air Force Officers with Monpas (Photo Bharat Rakshak)
I am posting two documents showing one of greatest folly of the 1962 War, namely the Indian leaders did not think of using the Air Force for the operations in the Eastern Sector.
The first document, a Top Secret assessment drafted in 1946 by the Commander-in Chief's Office with the War Department in London showing that Tibet can defended by Air.
The second document is an assessment by Brig. Lakshman Singh, a young Captain in 1962. He was then posted as Signals Officer of 7 Brigade on the Namkha chu/Ziminthang area. 
He is the author of Letters From The Border And Other Less Told Stories.
He explained the reasons why, according to him, the Air Force did not participate to the 1962 Operations.
The fate of the War would have certainly been different if the top Army brass in Delhi had just thought of the Air Force.



The D.M.O. (I) [Directorate of Military Operations, India] referred to a new General Staff appreciation that was being prepared on the military assistance that India would give to TIBET if the latter was attacked by either Russia or China.

2. A draft copy of this, which I bought home, is put up for information. This is a draft only at present and has NOT yet been approved by the C-in-C [Commander in Chief] or C.O.S. [Chief of Staff] India. [it was later approved].

3. An outline of the paper is as follows:  

...13. British Military position.
BRITISH ability to give direct military aid to TIBET depends on the following factors:-

  • Maintenance capacity by air.
  • Maintenance capacity by road.
  • Availability of troops, aircraft and TIBETAN airfields.
  • Time factor.
  • Ability of the TIBETANS to help themselves.
These factors will now be studied in turn.

14. Maintenance capacity by air.
  1. Working from airfields in the TEZPUR and DINJAN area. DAKOTA type aircraft could take a 3000 lb pay load to LHASA. The distance is 300 miles. The maximum number of transport aircraft likely to be available, as shown in the lowest limit for the Post War Air Force in INDIA is 7 squadrons, with a potential average serviceability of 16 aircraft, and lift of 24 tons, per squadron. The gross lift is 168 tons per sortie. Two sorties might be flown per / day giving a total daily lift of 36 tons.
  2. It is proposed to retain at least 5 airfields in NE [North East] ASSAM. This number is sufficient to provide bases for all the aircraft that would be required. Administrative base facilities either exist or could be rapidly improvised. Rail facilities for bases and airfields are sufficient.
  3. One Infantry Division normally requires 150 tons maintenance per day. In TIBET however, few vehicles would be require and fighting would not be on a heavy scale. Maintenance requirements may be calculated at 125 tons per day for one division. Approx 210 tons per day is therefore available for special engineer stores and air force requirements during the initial build up.
  4. The meteorological conditions in NE ASSAM will probably allow the following percentages of maximum air effort to be achieved in each month.
    Jan 95        Jul 50
    Feb 85        Aug 50
    Mar 85        Sep 60
    Apr 85        Oct 80
    May 70        Nov 95
    Jun 50        Dec 95
It should be noted therefore that the speed of the build up and degree of safety margin will vary with the season in which operations have to be carried out. The figures given in para 17 (c) below should therefore be road with caution, though in fact they are unlikely to be greatly exceeded.
5) We have not sufficient information on flying conditions in SE [South East] TIBET to say whether they vary greatly from those in NE ASSAM. More meteorological information of SE TIBET must be obtained. A full meteorological appreciation of the whole area is the first essential if detailed plans are to be prepared.
Maintenance capacity by road.
(a) Although there are several possible tracks loading into SE TIBET from BRITISH, INDIA, the only one feasible for use by a force larger than a company is the KALIMPONG-GYANTSE-LHASA, trade route. This is only a pack track buy could possibly be made suitable for jeeps by
  • Extensive rebuilding in the sector where it crosses the HIMALAYAS;
  • Provision of ferry facilities over the Tsang PO (BRAHMAPUTRA), South of LHASA;
  • Minor improvements and grading elsewhere.
(b) The railhead and base facilities that could be quickly got ready in the KALIMPONG-SILIGURI areas would suffice for a brigade group.
(c) The distance from a railhead at KALIMPONG ROAD to LHASA is 12 miles by NT road followed by approximately 250 miles of pack track. About 17000 animals would be needed to maintain a brigade group at LHASA by this route. It is doubtful if these could be provided, ever with the fullest cooperation of the Tibetans.
(d)    I t is not therefore worthwhile to send by land forces other than those which may be needed to prepare for the reception or air forces or air borne troops.
16. Availability of troops. Aircraft and TIBETAN airfields.
(a)    It may be assumed that one div, which is the largest force that can be maintained, could be made available.

(b)    The availability of transport aircraft for this operation has already been discussed in para 14 above. After the initial build up the number of squadrons required for maintenance might to reduce to 3 or 4.

(c)    It is impossible to estimate what offensive aircraft will be available: but the open nature of the country, the sparseness of population, and the fewness of tracks would probably enable one tactical reconnaissance squadron based in TIBET to cover the front of the whole of the div. Fighter cover could be provided from ASSAM when required, and preparations should be made to enable fighters to step forward should the enemy start to build up his air resources. Light Bombers of the Mosquito type could bomb or reconnoiter enemy rear maintenance areas.

(d)    Sites for airfields are believed to exist at TUNA [Chumbi Valley], LHASA and MANE KHORCHEN. It may also be possible to build an airfield at CHAMDO. Reconnaissance should be made now to clarify these points. All the above places are important, and would be used in the initial fly in. To hasten concentration, therefore, and to avoid uneconomical use of para troops, if their use is feasible in the circumstances at the time, arrangements should be made to improve, and keep in reasonable repair, the sites of any possible airfields at the above places.
17. The Time Factor
(a) From the time of their initial entry into SINKIANG. The RUSSIANS could produce forces in the LHASA area. As follows:-

(i) One brigade group maintained by land, 2 and half months
(ii) Alternatively, if it stopped to build maintenance airfields, 12 months
(iii) One div air supplied, 18 months
In addition
(a) A small force of mounted infantry from SINKIANG to GARYARSA [Gartok] (Western TIBET), 2 months
(b)    From the time they crossed the TIBETAN border, the CHINESE could produce forces in the LHASA area as follows:
(i) One brigade group via CHAMDO [Kham], 1 month
(ii) On brigade group via MANE KHORCHEN  [Eastern Tibet], 1 and half month

In addition: A small force of mounted infantry from SINKIANG to GARYARSA, 2 months.

(c)     Assuming that preparation had been made in the base areas in INDIA, and that our troops and aircraft had been concentrated there when RUSSIAN or CHINESE intentions against TIBET become obvious, we could carry out the following:
• Parachute engineers to TUNA, LHASA, MANE KHORCHEN and possibly CHAMDO, 3-7 days.
• One Brigade group to 1- 2 weeks
a) One bd group to MANE KHORCHEN, 1 – 1 and 1/2 weeks.
b) One brigade group to CHAMDO, 1-2 WEEKS
(a) One bd group to CHAMDO, 1-1 and 1/2 weeks.
(b) One additional brigade group to DRAS, 2-4 weeks.
(c) One small detachment at GARYRSA, 1 month (except between Oct-April).
If paratroops cannot be dropped on the Tibetan plateau owing to the height, the timings will be delayed by the period required to make local arrangements to prepare landing strips for transport aircraft. This might entail a delay of at least a month.
(d)    Our forces can probably therefore forestall either the RUSSIANS or CHINESE at the vital points of LHASA and MANE KHORCHEN, providing parachute engineers can prepare the landing strips, but the CHINESE would probably reach CHAMDO first.
The conclusions of the Note were:
•  That Tibetan Government should be approached to arrange for a nucleus of officers and NCOs for a M.I. Group (3,000 men) to be raised in India. This Bde [Brigade ] Group is for purpose of imposing delay on enemy operation on main approaches to LHASA.
•  Suitable equipment should be provided free or at a nominal cost.
•  A resident Military Mission should reside in TIBET.
•  The maximum aid that can be given is one air supplied and air transported division with offensive air support.
The Outline Plan included:
•  Construction of certain airfields by arrangement with TIBET
•  Detailed plans to be drawn up when Russian intentions against SINKIANG [Xinjiang], CHINGHAI [Qinghai] OR KANSU [Gansu province] are obviously hostile.
•  A meteorological appreciation of the whole area to be put in hand early.
•  Plan envisages employment of two bde gps in event of either Russian or Chinese aggression singly, or of one div. less one bde gp in event of attack by both, together with seven transport squadrons initially.
Finally, London believed: "This paper is prepared on the assumption that TIBET remains autonomous. I discussed with DMO who agreed that, if CHINA regained control of TIBET and entered into agreement with RUSSIA, our task would be much more difficult owing to the feet that we should not get prior information of Russian/Chinese intentions."
The use of Air Force was not only envisaged, but recommended.

It was forgotten a few years later when China attacked India.

The Official Report of the War
It is worth also quoting some portions of the Official Report of the 1962 prepared by the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) on the subject.
The MoD Report says:
Another aspect that comes up in any discussion is the non-use of close air support or the offensive air weapon, by both sides. Though mainly in the realm of speculation, what could have happened had air power been used in support of the ground troops throws up interesting possibilities. In fact this is a famous ‘If’ of recent Indian military history and well deserves some discussion.

…Air Strengths and Deployment
Ever since the experience of Second World War, it has been axiomatic that the use of fighter and bomber aircraft in support of ground troops was an integral part of all wars. On the eve of the 1962 conflict both China and India had fairly large air forces. The Chinese are estimated to have had about 1,500 frontline aircrafts while the Indian Air Force had 550 Fighter and Fighter Bombers. One noteworthy feature of 1962 conflict is that while on the India side there was at least air transport activity, on the Chinese side there was complete absence of any flights. In the early 50s when the Chinese moved against the Tibetans, there were reports if use of aircraft to bomb and strafe the Tibetan resistance strongholds, but in 1962 the Chinese Air Force as well as IAF fighters and bombers, were conspicuous by their absence.

…There is no accurate or authentic documentation of the thinking that was behind this decision to desist from use of the offensive air support. Air Marshall H.C. Dawan (Redt), the then Director of Operations at the Air HQ has recounted that he had sent a note to Chief of Air Staff about the use of offensive air support. His main conclusion was that the terrain in the area of operations, specially NEFA, being heavily jungle-covered, close air support would be difficult and could have very little effect on dispersed infantry. Since there was no possibility of large concentration of tanks and or vehicles in these areas, there were no worthwhile targets for the Air Force. His note further states that since India troops were critically dependent on air supply, it was best not to provoke the Chinese. Referring to the large size of the Chinese air force, he made a point that while China could easily replenish her losses, India could not. He also mentioned that Pakistan’s attitude was a question mark, and the IAF resources had to be kept in the west to deal with that threat. The note concluded by referring to international repercussions of this, as the whole world would know that India has ‘escalated’ the conflict. This would deprive India of internationals public sympathy which was with it as a victim of the aggression. Most of these considerations were equally applicable to Ladakh.

…The issue of the offensive air support is a continuous one. The advice given in 1962 by Air HQ lacked depth and was perhaps unduly pessimistic. The role played by a foreign Ambassador (U.S.) appears to have been crucial and negative to the outcome of the fighting. This might or might not have been part of a larger US design to get India under its fold, as nearly happened in the aftermath of 1962 debacle.
The conclusions about threats to India cities were much exaggerated and the same date when analyzed today has yielded different conclusions namely, India had an edge in the air. Recently a defence analyst has noted that at that time the Chinese Air Force was virtually grounded due to the dispute with Soviet Union, leading to shortage of spares. The Soviet Union also tilted its supply the transport balance in favour of India through its supply of the then top of the shelf AN-12s and MI-4s.
It was obvious that the threats on Indian cities was nonsensical.

by Brigadier Lakshman Singh
(Sino Indian conflict Op, Leghorn, NEFA 20th, 0ctober 1962)
The twin tailed Vampire fighters of IAF at Tezpur airbase regularly burnt rubber on the tarmac, taking off and landing, sorties after sorties honing their flying skills. It was a reassuring sight as they  flew low over our Signal Regiment mess, located near by.
There was a GLO (Ground Liaison Officer) attached to the Brigade HQ, I had also been instructed to keep my BE 201, Ground to Air set switched on all the times as it could be required as short notice.
Sited as we were, it was a different question as to what the GLO could have seen and on what target he could have directed the fighters. Chinese, in any case were all in the open and had the fighters arrived they would not have needed to be guided, they would have found any number of targets of opportunity to neutralize, it would have been like shooting fish in a barrel.
All it was a conjecture, when needed the Air support was conspicuous by its absence. The Chinese in retaliation will bomb Calcutta, if India brought in`Offensive Air Support' was one of the theories which went round later to explain this unexplainable.
Why should Chinese bomb a civilian target when non-of their cities was threatened, remains unexplained. Having intruded all the way into the India air space, they would also have to face the IAF. In any case there were many more lucrative targets available to them; the Div Tac HQ [Divisional Tactical Headquarters] sited in the open at Khinzamani, the Brigade complex at Towang [Tawang], the DZ`s [dropping zone] at Tsangdhar, Lumpu and Lumla, the Airforce station and Div HQ at Tezpur, and even later at Drang [Dirang] Dzong, all unprotected, bare like a new born baby.
Possibly that was the cause and not Calcutta, and the reason for `No Protection'  was simple; The integral LAA [Light Anti Aircraft] regiment has been rendered ineffective with no communication resources left with the regiment. They were now possibly acting as a transit camp.
There was a valid reason for this action and which must have been based on sound intelligence inputs or `gut' feeling about the ultimate Chinese intentions. What had happened that all the fresh units being rushed and  inducted in the battle-zone were found to be arriving without their integral radio sets. The various ad hoc HQs and entities being setup also required communication resources, which were neither available in situ nor were any where in the pipe line.
I was the Signals officer of 7 Brigade and my own meager resources were the only one to grab, albeit zealously guarded by me under the circumstances.
The easy solution evolved by some one, normally it is The `G' branch which controls such issues, was to withdraw the 62 Sets from the LAA Regiment regiment and distribute the same on as-required basis. It is  for sure since I also got a few, to augment my resources, with the characteristic unit and sub unit signs painted on. Interestingly, I also received some audit queries later, regarding the fate of the sets that were issued to my section.
In retrospect the cure was worse than the malady, with obvious results. However, the question remains; was the Air effort demanded at all by any one in the chain, the 7 Brigade (not to my knowledge unless it was done by telephone) HQ 4 Div or HQ 4 Corps and if so was it denied at some level in Delhi.

This is what Brig PS GILL the then CSO 4 Corps at Tezpur had to say on my theory sent to him by E-mail
1. Offensive Air Support was not even considered (at the appropriate levels) because of the belief the Enemy will not go on the offensive.
2. Also because NO one was sure how Air Maintenance in general (not only to 7 Bde) and movement of helicopters and such like, would be effected, there were doubts all round. As far as I can remember, the Air Force showed no keenness.
3. Because of the haste attending the Namka Chu Foray NO Planning for a protracted Operation had been envisaged. Leave that aside it was realised within a week or so (from 5 or 6 Oct) that the whole affair had been BOTCHED; and paralysis had set in. In fact the 'Botched Feeling' was noticeable all round and all levels recall also there was talk of leave being opened soon.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A new India's Tibet Policy

This paper is in two parts: first I study the British Policy towards Tibet before they left the subcontinent and later the non-existence of such a policy in India after Independence, particularly before 1962 War with China.
In the second part, I look at what should be India's Tibet Policy in today’s changed circumstances and this, at the strategic, economic and cultural levels as well as for the welfare of the Tibetan refugees in India.

The British Policy on Tibet
The British were good strategists, nobody can deny this. It has not always been the case of the Indians, especially with issues related to Tibet as we shall see in this paper.
On November 5, 1945, as World War II ended, the British Cabinet issued a little-known Statement on Tibet. It reiterated: “The attitude of His Majesty’s Government towards the Tibetan question is defined in a memorandum by the Secretaries of State for Foreign Affairs and for India dated 23rd June, 1943.”
What was this memorandum of 1943?
It was a policy statement about Tibet sent by Antony Eden, the then British Prime Minister to Dr. T. V. Soong, China’s Foreign Minister: “When you visited me on 26th July, you spoke of Tibet and enquired as to our attitude. I have pleasure in sending you the accompanying informal memorandum which I trust will serve to clear this matter up”.
The well-known Memorandum represented the British policy towards Tibet for several decades. It starts thus: “Since the Chinese Revolution of 1911, when Chinese forces were withdrawn from Tibet, Tibet has enjoyed de facto independence. She has ever since regarded herself as in practice completely autonomous and has opposed Chinese attempts to reassert control. ”
It is necessary to mention some of the points highlighted in the 1945 British Cabinet’s Statement:
•    Until the Chinese Revolution of 1911, Tibet acknowledged the suzerainty of the Manchu Emperors and a measure of control from Peking which fluctuated from military occupation to a more nominal link.
•    His Majesty’s Government made repeated attempts after 1911 to bring the Chinese Republic and the Tibetan Government together on the basis that Tibet should be autonomous under the nominal suzerainty of China, but these attempts always broke down on the question of the boundary between China and Tibet, and eventually in 1921, His Majesty’s Government presented the Chinese Government with a declaration to the effect that they did not feel justified in withholding any longer their recognition of the status of Tibet as an autonomous State under the suzerainty of China, and that they intended dealing on that basis with Tibet in the future.
•    …we have promised the Tibetan Government to support them in maintaining their practical autonomy which is important to the security of India and to the tranquility of India’s north-eastern frontier.
The Statement admits that the alliance with China during World War II made it difficult to give ‘effective material support’ to Tibet. Lhasa was however informed that London “would be prepared to give them only diplomatic support against China.”
The Statement points to an interesting development; in August 1945, Chiang Kai-Shek made a declaration in the Chinese Assembly: “I solemnly declare that if the Tibetans should at this time express a wish for self-government our Government would, in conformity with our sincere traditions, accord it a very high degree of autonomy. If in the future, they fulfill economic requirement of independence, the nation’s Government will, as in the case of Outer Mongolia, help them to attain this status”.
The British commented: “There would seem to be nothing irreconcilable between this offer of ‘a very high degree of autonomy’ and the attitude of His Majesty’s Government. It is clear however, from conversations which took place between British and Chinese representatives in Lhasa in 1944 that with regard to Tibet, there is a considerable difference between the British and the Chinese conceptions of the word ‘autonomy’.”
The conclusion of the British Cabinet was that two factors would govern the Tibetan question for London:
•    Tibet has in practice regarded herself as autonomous and has maintained her autonomy for over 30 years;
•    Our attitude has always been to recognize China’s suzerainty, but on the understanding that Tibet is regarded as autonomous by China.
This was the Government of India’s position when the country became independent in August 1945.
S. Sinha, head of the Indian Mission in Lhasa

Did Independent India have Tibet Policy?
This brings another question: had India a Tibet Policy at the beginning of 1950, when Communist China was preparing the ‘liberation’ (invasion in fact) of Tibet? The answer is a clear ‘no’.
The 1950 events in Tibet should have triggered a chain of reactions which could have resulted in a well-defined policy. It was not to be the case.
In India, the demise of Sardar Patel, the Deputy Prime Minister who had a pragmatic view on the security issues for the Indian borders, stopped the search for a Tibet Policy. The disastrous consequences are still visible more than 60 years later.
During October and November 1950, India had the choice between two directions: either to bend with the ‘east wind’ and ally with China or stand and defend her own interests. The letter from Patel to Nehru, which could be considered his political testament, was resolutely in favour of the second path.
What probably started the exploration for a Tibet Policy was a report of Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai, the General Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs and Commonwealth. We know of the report’s existence only through a letter that Patel wrote to Bajpai on November 4, 1950 . The Deputy Prime Minister tells Bajpai:
The Chinese advance into Tibet upsets all our security calculations. Hitherto, the danger to India on its land frontiers has always come from the North-West. Throughout history we have concentrated our armed might in that region. For the first time, a serious danger is now developing on the North and North-East side; at the same time, our danger from the West or North-West is in no way lessened. This creates most embarrassing defense problems and I entirely agree with you that a reconsideration of our military position and a redisposition of our forces are inescapable.
A few days later, Patel send his above-mentioned letter to Jawaharlal Nehru.
The clarity of Patel’s perception and the strategic implications of Tibet’s invasion for India have been masterfully outlined in the following lines:
We have also to take note of a thoroughly unscrupulous, unreliable and determined power practically at our doors. ...[the invasion of Tibet] in my judgment, entitles us to treat them with a certain amount of hostility, let alone a great deal of circumspection. In these circumstances, one thing, to my mind, is quite clear; and, that is, that we cannot be friendly with China and must think in terms of defense against a determined, calculating, unscrupulous, ruthless, unprincipled and prejudiced combination of powers, of which the Chinese will be the spearhead. 
Twelve years later, this last sentence would resound in the Indian mind. Was the China of 1950 very different from 1962’s China? Or was it the same China who had already decided in 1949 who would be the new leader of Asia and was ready to use all available means to achieve its plans.
In a way, Patel’s letter was the first (and only) draft Tibet Policy for India.
The letter goes on to analyze, with great lucidity, the defence and other strategic and political issues facing India. For example, Patel lists the problems which need immediate action:
-    a military and intelligence appreciation of the Chinese threat to India both on the frontier and the internal security.
-    An examination of our military position and such redisposition of our forces as might be necessary, particularly with the idea of guarding important routes or area which are likely to be subject to dispute
-    An appraisal of the strength of our forces
-    A long-term consideration of our defence needs
-    The question of Chinese entry into the UNO
-    The future of our mission in Lhasa and trade posts at Gyantse and Yatung
-    The policy in regard to the McMahon Line
Six months later, as a first consequence of the new policy of non-interference of the Government of India, a 17 Point Agreement would be forced ‘under duress’ on the Tibetans. The first consequence was that the Indo-Tibetan border in the western and eastern sector became the Indo-Chinese border.
It is what the British had tried to avoid at any cost.

Nehru’s Note on Tibet Policy
Nehru did not respond directly to Sardar Patel’s letter, but a few days later, he dictated a Note  that would become the corner stone of India’s Tibet Policy until the Prime Minister’s death, and in a way, till today. We shall look at this Note to try to understand Nehru’s fears and motivations.
In November 1950, Nehru had already accepted that the frontier between India and Tibet had de facto become the border between India and China. It was a surprising statement because at that time, the Chinese troops had not marched further than Chamdo, still several weeks away from Lhasa, and several months from the McMahon Line.
Nehru says: “I think it may be taken for granted that China will take possession, in a political sense at least, of the whole of Tibet.”
He further admits that for the Tibetan people the “autonomy can obviously not be anything like the autonomy, verging on independence, which Tibet has enjoyed during the last forty years or so.”
It is beyond comprehension how Nehru, who wanted to be the hero of the oppressed nations, could at the same time accept that a nation ‘verging on independence’, should lose its independence before his eyes, and he could so easily accept it as a fait accompli.
Another point made by Nehru is that “it is exceedingly unlikely that we may have to face any real military invasion [of India] from the Chinese side, whether in peace or in war, in the foreseeable future.”
It is not clear what was meant by ‘real’ invasion, however Nehru came to the conclusion that China would not take the risk to have too many new enemies; for that would weaken China. He was proved wrong.
Nehru’s Note concludes: “We cannot save Tibet”.
Regarding the Tibetan Appeal to the UN, Nehru finally decided to do as little as possible: “It will not take us or Tibet very far. It will only hasten the downfall of Tibet.”
The facts showed that Tibet was an independent nation, it was clear that China, as the aggressor, was in the wrong and that it was India’s moral duty to defend this position, but under the pretext that it would not ‘take us very far’, the moral stand was dropped and Tibet abandoned to its fate.
All this shows that India had no Tibet Policy.

What should a Tibet Policy be today?
The above analysis raises some questions.
Does Delhi have a Tibet Policy today? If it does not have one, what shape should a Tibet Policy take? To answer this, it is important to have a look at what are India’s present interests in Tibet?
They are, of course, of different nature; first and foremost are the strategic interests flowing from the long common (and disputed) border with China. But they are also diplomatic (visa issue), economic (border trade), cultural and civilisational. The presence of the Dalai Lama and more than a lakh of his countrymen and women is an important factor to be taken into account. After defining these interests, a formal (or informal) policy should accordingly be drafted.

A- The strategic interests
Let us have a look at strategic interests as many other issues flow from this core subject. There is currently an argument in India that the country is not prepared for a war. This is an undisputable fact. A few months back a Weekly magazine published a cover story arguing: “Fifty years after its only defeat, the Indian Army is still unprepared for a battle with its scheming adversary, China. Low on equipment and lacking in infrastructure, the bloated war machine is in urgent need of an overhaul.”
Though Defence Minister A.K. Antony affirmed that no infiltration takes place across the LAC in Arunachal Pradesh, he recently admitted: “there have been instances of a few Tibetan herb collectors inadvertently crossing over into Indian territory in the last two years.” It is common knowledge that the Chinese are masters at testing the ground by sending herders or herb collectors to scout areas that they ‘perceive’ as theirs.
Behind this new Tibet Policy should be that fact that it is not necessary for India to always be in denial mode. It does not help to engage China.
Does it mean that 1962 can repeat itself?
Take the roads for example: in January 2008, during a visit to Itanagar and Tawang, the Prime Minister announced a Rs 24,000 crores package for the State. The priority was given to the roads (in particular, the construction of a Trans-Arunachal Highway). With the road being enlarged between the plains of Assam and Tawang (en route to the Tibet border), one finds today the messiest imaginable road site; it has become the favorite topic of local jokes. There are however differences between 1962 and 2012: the Indian leadership did not then dare to use the Air Force; it will not be the case today. A full squadron of Sukhoi-30 aircraft have now been deployed at Tezpur air base in Assam (another squadron has been brought to Chabua in Upper Assam). Further, the IAF is planning to open six Advanced Landing Grounds, as well as several helipads in areas close to the border. This may take some time, but the process has started.
Were India attacked today, it will not remain a localized conflict like in 1962; any Chinese misadventure would trigger an ‘all-out’ conflict, and India would certainly not hesitate to attack the PLA infrastructure in the Nyingchi Prefecture, north of the McMahon line and elsewhere in Tibet.
It has been in the public domain that two new infantry divisions are being raised and that the Government is looking for a place in the Northeast to set up the headquarters of a Mountain Strike Corps.
This should be one more deterrent factor for China.
Another crucial issue is the support of the local population in Arunachal and Ladakh. In 1962, some villages fully supported the invading Chinese troops. How else could the PLA have built a road from Bumla, the border pass, to Tawang in 18 days? It is not difficult to imagine the staggering amount of accurate intelligence required for this feat.
An important question is “what will China gain from a misadventure on India’s territoory, apart from a hypothetical Asian supremacy?”
It is clear that China cannot militarily ‘take back’ Tawang. The PLA could at the most occupy a few ‘disputed pockets’ like Samdorong Chu valley, north of Tawang or Demchok in Ladakh, but in the process, Beijing would lose India’s present goodwill and the international respect it earns with its ‘peaceful rise’ policy as well as its integration into the world scene as a responsible State.
Further, it should not be difficult for India to get logistic support from inside Tibet and eventually support a military rebellion; at least a civil disobedience could be organized. Let us not forget that an alien PLA has already to deal with a resentful local population on the Tibetan plateau. The recent immolations of monks and nuns in Eastern Tibet are a proof of this.
The launch of the Agni-V long range missile also adds to the deterrence. It has already made Chinese policy makers ponder. The People's Daily stated that it reflects India's “intention of seeking regional balance of power”.
If Beijing wants again to ‘teach a lesson’ to India, it will indeed be a Himalayan task, and what will Beijing gain in the bargain?
China can nevertheless use some asymmetric types of warfare, cyber-warfare is one of them.
Traditionally, the Himalayan frontier has been a frontier between India and Tibet; the 1914 border agreement (i.e. the McMahon Line) delineates the frontier in the North-East. This is not acceptable to Beijing which denies the existence of the McMahon Line.
It is the main reason why the border talks have today come to a standstill. Presuming that the next generation of Chinese leaders would attempt a 1962-like adventure against India, the Tibet factor would become crucial. The Indian Government could for example immediately recognize the Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala as the legitimate exiled government of Tibet.
A Tibet Policy should be based on deterrence, as India can’t match today with China in terms of infrastructure and armed forces. Some of the developments mentioned above should be part of this policy of deterrence.

B- Diplomatic contacts between Dharamsala and Delhi
A few years ago, the diplomatic contacts between Dharamsala and Delhi were enhanced when the post of the Dalai Lama’s Liaison Officer (an officer of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs) was upgraded to the rank of Director and a post of Deputy Liaison Officer was created.
In the recent years, successive Foreign Secretaries have visited Dharamsala and called not only on the Dalai Lama, but also on the Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister), the elected head of the Central Tibetan Administration.
However, there is still a feeling that “we should not upset the Chinese” and often ministers are ‘shy’ to meet the Dalai Lama and the Kalon Tripa.
Officials contacts should be upgraded at the ministerial, if not prime-ministerial levels. It could be explained to the Chinese ambassador that it is nothing against the People’s Republic of China, but the mere fact that the Dalai Lama is an ‘honoured guest’ and one and half lakh of his countrymen/women live in India, requires some coordination meetings from time to time.
Further, India should continue to insist to reopen its Consulate General in Lhasa. It would be an important step to restore the traditional relations.
But when the question came to open a Consulate in Lhasa, some Chinese India experts objected. Zhao Gancheng, director of South Asia Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies criticized India's proposal saying that the move was motivated by political, rather than economic interests: "The Indian government hopes to closely watch, observe, and infiltrate the Tibetan area after the opening of a Lhasa consulate, ... The issue regarding Tibet is an internal affair and we won't tolerate any external forces imposing a negative impact on the situation in Tibet."
In this case, why to have a Nepali Consulate in Lhasa? Has (and had) Nepal closer contacts with Tibet than India?
Zhao Gancheng, who, by the way is often invited by Indian think-tanks, seems unaware of the traditional bonds between Tibet and India. The Indian presence on the Roof of the World is older than the British 'imperialist' (for the Chinese) inroads in Tibet.
One of the best proofs is the collections of thousands of 700-year old Sanskrit manuscripts found in Tibetan monasteries by the scholar Mahapandit Rahul Sankrityayan when he visited Tibet in the 1930's. Such examples could be multiplied.
If the Indian Government had wanted "to watch, observe, and infiltrate" Tibet, they could have done it long ago, with or without a Consulate General in Lhasa.
Regarding the visa issue, if China continues to issue visas on stapled paper for the residents of J&K or Arunachal Pradesh, India should simply reciprocate for Tibetans, Uyghurs and Mongols from Inner Mongolia.

C- Trade between India and Tibe
Trade has, for centuries, been a traditional link between Tibet and India. Even when the Government of India decided to ‘bury’ Tibet as a de facto Independent nation in 1954, an agreement on ‘Trade and Intercourse’ between Tibet and India was signed (it is remembered as the Panchsheel Agreement). Inter alia, it says:
The High Contracting Parties mutually agree to establish Trade Agencies:
(1) The Government of India agrees that the Government of China may establish Trade Agencies at New Delhi, Calcutta and Kalimpong.
(2) The Government of China agrees that the Government of India may establish Trade Agencies at Yatung, Gyantse and Gartok.
The Trade Agencies of both Parties shall be accorded the same status and same treatment.
Indians and Chinese traders were allowed to use the following places, (1) Yatung, (2) Gyantse and (3) Phari as trademarts. Further the Government of India agreed that trade may be carried on in India, in places like (1) Kalimpong, (2) Siliguri and (3) Calcutta.
The Chinese Government of China specified (1) Gartok, (2) Taklakot, (3) Gyanima-Khargo, (4) Gyaniina-Chaltra, (5) Ramura, (6) Dongbra, (7) Puling-Sumdo, (8) Nabra, (9) Shangtse and (10) Tashigong as markets for Indian traders in Tibet.
Traders and pilgrims were allowed to use the following passes and routes:
(1) Shipki pass (Himachal), (2) Mana pass (Uttarakhand), (3) Niti pass (Uttarakhand), (4) Kungri Bingri pass, (5) Darma pass (Uttarakhand), and (6) Lipulekh pass (Uttarakhand)
Unfortunately, after the 1962 conflict, all these trade marts and passes were closed.
Since then, a series of border trade agreements were signed to reopen Lipulekh-la in Uttarakhand (1991), Shipki-la in Himachal Pradesh (1991).
In 2003 a Memorandum on Expanding Border Trade was signed between India and China; it was agreed to reopen Nathu-la as a border pass. Article II says: “The two sides agree to use Nathu-la as the pass for entry and exit of persons, means of transport and commodities engaged in border trade. Each side shall establish checkpoints at appropriate locations to monitor and manage their entry and exit through the Nathu-la Pass.”
A recent report of the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies explains: “Border trade markets [are] scheduled to be opened from Monday to Thursday every week. A permit fee of Rs. 50 each would be levied for every vehicle entering Sikkim side from China. Similarly, a fee of 5 Yuan (Rs. 25 approximately) would be levied for every vehicle crossing over to the Chinese side up to the trade mart point at Renqinggang.
Unfortunately, business is not flourishing as yet.
On April 21, 2011, iSikkim reported: “The fifth edition of Indo-China trade through the Nathu-la border in 2010 recorded absolute zero import. In 2009 also the Nathu-la border trade closed for the season recording zero import. As per the official record, [year] 2010 saw exports worth a little over Rs 4 crore.”
The Sikkimese publication quoted Kesang Diki, the Tibetan Autonomous Region’s in-charge, affirming that the reason for zero import was the non-feasible list of items. She requested the Indian Government to expand the trade list and cater to today’s market demands.
Many feel that most of the items listed in the schedule are obsolete and do not have a commercial value; interestingly both the Tibetan and the Sikkimese traders agree on this.
It is worth noticing that a few hundred kilometers westwards the trade is with Nepal is blooming.
The website China Tibet Online affirms that the “total volume of cross-border petty trade between Tibet and Nepal has increased remarkably in the first quarter of 2011”.
Like for India, Europe and the United States, the trade is heavily tilting in China's favour, but the Nepalis do not seem to mind too much.
A new Tibet Policy should take into account this important traditional bilateral activity and if there is a political will, the situation could greatly improve, with both side benefiting from it.
Further, new traditional land ports such as between Walong-Rima in the Lohit Valley, Bumla in the Tawang district or Demchok in Ladakh could be opened, once the security concerns are taken care of. The softening of the borders would be one of the measures to bring more understanding on both sides of the frontier.

D- Pilgrimage

The Panchsheel Agreement mentions that as both India and China were “desirous of promoting trade and cultural intercourse between Tibet Region of China and India”, (1) pilgrims from India of Lamaist, Hindu and Buddhists faiths may visit the Kailash and Manasarovar lake while pilgrims from Tibet may visit Banaras, Sarnath, Gaya and Sanchi.
Today the immediate need is to open a new route for the Kailash-Manasarovar yatra. Demchok should be easier than the present one through Uttarakhand. Unfortunately, the Chinese side seems overcautious about the project.
In a longer term, if the security risks can be sorted out, the old Tsari pilgrimage around the Dakpa Sheri, the Pure Crystal Mountain in Tsari region of Southern Tibet could be reopened for the Buddhist populations of Arunachal Pradesh. It would, of course, raise the problem of visas as the Chinese authorities still claim the Indian State as part of ‘Southern Tibet’.
A special agreement would be required for this pilgrimage which occurs every 12 years, as part of it is located south of the McMahon Line. However, if allowed, the sacred yatra could greatly help to ‘soften’ the border.
Year 2016, is the next date for the Tsari pilgrimage.

E- Buddhist Studies
As part of a global Tibet Policy, India should take the lead in promoting Buddhism and Buddhist studies. In this context, the Global Buddhist Congregation (GBC), organized by the Ashoka Mission in November 2011 was a good exercise. Some 900 monks and nuns from over 40 countries attended the event in Delhi. China, as usual, objected to the function. Beijing was particularly incensed by the invitation sent to the Dalai Lama to address the valedictory function.
China even threatened to call off the 15th round of border talks between the Special Representatives if India refused to yield and cancel the Conference. Beijing also objected to the Prime Minister and the President of India attending the opening ceremony of the Congregation.
Eventually, India partially backed out with the Prime Minister and the President suddenly becoming ‘busy’, but the program with the Dalai Lama was reconfirmed. The External Affairs ministry issued a bland statement "We are looking forward to the 15th round of Special Representatives’ talks in the near future and the two sides remain in touch to find convenient dates for the meeting."
The Ministry explained to China that the Congregation was of a religious nature and not a political event; further it had no power to cancel it. The Conference came at a time when Beijing had been trying to take on the leadership of the Buddhist world movement through its involvement in projects as in Lumbini and Nalanda and later a Buddhist Conference in Honk Kong.
One could think that the atheist regime in Beijing does not believe in Buddhism, but on the contrary, Beijing recently seems to embrace the philosophy taught by the Great Gautama, for political purposes at least.
The Economist reported that China plans to invest $3 billion in Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha. The magazine explains: “After Prachanda, the leader of Nepal’s Maoists, stepped down as Prime Minister in 2009, he met representatives of the Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation (APECF) several times. In July, the Chinese media reported that the Hong Kong-based foundation which is widely thought to have China’s backing had signed an agreement with UNIDO, the UN’s industrial development organization, to invest $3 billion in Lumbini.”
The objective is to make Lumbini a ‘Mecca for Buddhists’ (under China’s sponsorship).
Unfortunately for Beijing, the dynamic 82-year old Lama Lobzang from Ladakah and his colleagues from the Himalayan belt decided to celebrate the 2600th anniversary of the Enlightenment of the Buddha and to do it in India.
The Global Buddhist Conference eventually resolved to “preserve and conserve sacred sites and holy relics worldwide, particularly those that are historically connected to the life and times of Buddha such as Lumbini in Nepal, and Bodhgaya, Sarnath and Kushinagar in India”.
It was stated that Buddhism can help the human civilization which “today faces many challenges such as conflict, violence, extremism, discrimination, injustice, inequality, materialism, environmental degradation, natural disasters” and that solutions “to these issues of global concern can be found within the principles and values contained in Buddha’s teachings.”
India should certainly have a say in most of these issues whereas Buddhist ethics cannot flourish in China where the individual liberties are still very restricted under an authoritarian regime.
India should give a lead to the Buddhist world in which Tibet and the Dalai Lama (representing the true Nalanda tradition) have a significant role to play. Once again, Indian leaders should not be shy to attend these types of religious functions.

F- Tibetan studies
Tibetan studies is also a field where India has traditionally been present as most of the Tibetan literature originated from India. Unfortunately, here also it is China which invests in this field.
Traditionally, scholars, pundits, lamas from India and Tibet have criss-crossed the Himalayas. For centuries, vast amounts of knowledge have freely been exchanged between the subcontinent and the Land of Snows over the Himalayan passes.
Today the situation has changed. From August 1 to 4, 2012, the 5th Beijing International Seminar on Tibetan Studies was held in the Chinese capital under the auspices of the China Tibetology Research Center.
It is said it attracted 246 scholars from 21 countries and regions including Mongolia, India, Japan, France, Australia and the United States.
According to the organizers, the Seminar on Tibetan Studies was aimed at ‘preserving culture and serving society’. The topics of discussion focused on social development in Tibet. The China Daily quoted Lhagpa Phuntshoks, the Director-General of the China Tibetology Research Center who stated during his opening speech: “Tibetan studies are expanding in China, with the government investing heavily in the protection of traditional heritage, printing of historic texts in the Tibetan language and the cultivation of young researchers”.
Sitar, the Vice-president of the China Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture declared that “China has been steadily endeavoring to preserve the Tibetan language, cultural relics, folk arts such as the Epic of King Gesar, and the religious practice. It is for this purpose that we organized a panel on Development, Sustainability and Livelihood Security in Tibetan-inhabited Areas.”
The question is why should China have the monopoly of Tibet studies?
Delhi, with the help and support of institutions in the Himalayan regions as well as Dharamsala, should revive Tibetan studies in a big way.
Further, why not open Chairs on Tibetan history, culture and politics in some of the main Indian Universities; particularly in J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh?
The age-old intellectual, spiritual and also environmental relations between India (particularly the Himalayan belt) and Tibet should flourish again. The People’s Republic of China can keep the monopoly on Tibetan studies. A new Tibet Policy should promote the traditional links and help reestablish them through regular conferences/seminars and exchanges.

G- A Greater Trans-Himalayan Cooperation
Sowa Rigpa system of medicine

There are different fields through which the Himalayans have a deeper and closer cooperation with the Tibetan civilization. One of them is Tibetan medicine.
In August 2010, the Indian Parliament officially recognised the Tibetan system of medicine, known as Sowa Rigpa.
The Parliament adopted a bill to add the Sowa-Rigpa system of medicine practiced in sub-Himalayan region, as one of the Indian systems.
While replying to a debate on the Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2010, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said: “It would be the endeavour of the government to bring to mainstream Sowa-Rigpa system of medicine in regions where it is prevalent.”
Mr. Azad assured the Members that the Bill will provide protection and preservation of this ancient system of medicine and help its propagation and development. It will also facilitate the setting up of a regulatory mechanism in the field of education and practice.
Further the government would set up a Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Systems of Medicine, including Sowa-Rigpa. The Rajya Sabha had passed the Bill on August 25.
The Sowa-Rigpa system of medicine is practiced in Himalayan belt and other parts of the country besides Nepal, Tibet, Baltistan, Mongolia and Japan.
The practice and research in this field should be further supported.

Bhoti language

Language is one of man’s best mediums of communication. It is also a reflection of history, culture, religion and politics of a nation or a region. One of the richest and less known languages of India is the Bhoti language. It is widely used in Ladakh, Kinnaur, Lahul, Spiti, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, but also in Bhutan, Nepal and Baltistan. Bhoti language is closely linked with Tibetan, using the same scripts.
Bhoti is the language of the Buddhists of the Himalayan belt. It is the language of the pundits, scholars and saints who criss-crossed the Himalayas generations after generations. It is also the language for the Himalayans people struggling to preserve their identity, in a global world.
In the same way that Sowa Rigpa has been acknowledged by the Government of India as one of the indigenous systems of medicine, Bhoti language should be recognized as one of the Indian languages
The time has come to introduce a bill for its inclusion in the eighth schedule of Indian constitution. It will go a long way to acknowledge the century-old link between the people of the Himalayan belt and Tibet.
Right now, Bhoti language is preserved at a slow pace. For example in Ladakh, winter classes in Bhoti are organized in some villages, but only middle aged people usually attend. One step forward would be to start classes at the primary school level.
In an online debate on the subject, a participant wrote: “There is still immense appreciation and interest for Bhoti language among the local people of Lahul & Spiti, Ladakh. We still organize sessions in winters to keep the traditions of the oral songs and verses alive. People take interest, but mostly middle aged, learned persons, government employees. Every winter we put up notices indicating the timings of such sessions. People from Tod, Garh, Khoksar and Myad valley are often more interested. But it is not taught in schools for the younger generation. In Spiti the enthusiasm is much more as the community is more homogenous and they have been able to introduce Bhoti in schools. Many of us have tried to document the lyrics in Bhoti and learn the script because, if we write them down in Hindi, we don't do justice to the unique pronunciations. The SC/ST Commission and the Himalayan Buddhist Culture Association are taking some initiative in promoting the language.”
Ultimately, if the Himalayans can find their own roots and reestablish their link with the Tibetan civilization, they can participate in the preservation of an endanger culture.

Environment is a field where the Himalayans should be able to ‘share’ more and should be encouraged to do so. After all, they have a common ecological past and future.
In this context, an interesting event was organized in Simla in October 2009. The Chief ministers of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim issued a detailed action plan known as 'Simla Declaration'.
Union Minister of State for Environment and Forest, Jairam Ramesh, presided over the Chief Ministers’ meet. Experts from the five Himalayan States discussed the impact of climatic change in the Himalayan region and its relation with the people living in mountains.
The declaration states: "The mountain people have traditionally lived a low energy, low consumption, and low waste life styles. It is very important to learn from these, and emulate this in a larger scale in view of the necessity of reducing the global emission of green house gasses."
Adding: “Himalaya, which provides life-sustaining 'eco-system services' to a large part of south-Asia, is one such region. While the impacts of climate change on the Himalayan ecosystems like accelerated glacial melt and distorted rainfall patterns have been studied in depth, preparation to tackle these impacts, both at the national and state levels seem to lack vision and are generally based upon the same paradigm of unsustainable development that has brought this world to the current state of crisis.”
The Chief Ministers of Himalayan States decided in Simla to adopt a common strategy to combat climate change.
A trans-Himalayan organization in the line of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), but purely Indian should be established, collaborating with Tibetan experts in the field of environment.
ICIMOD is a “regional intergovernmental learning and knowledge sharing centre serving the eight regional member countries of the Hindu Kush Himalayas – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan.” It is based in Kathmandu.
ICIMOD’s strategic framework stresses: “Globalization and climate change have an increasing influence on the stability of fragile mountain ecosystems and the livelihoods of mountain people. ICIMOD aims to assist mountain people to understand these changes, adapt to them, and make the most of new opportunities, while addressing upstream-downstream issues.”
A similar organization should be instituted for the Indian Himalayas in close collaboration with ICIMOD. It will be one more occasion to share similar problems on both sides of the Himalayas.

The Tibetans in India
Regarding the third aspect of a new Tibet Policy, i.e. a greater security for the Tibetan refugees living in India, it is enough to cite a few possibilities:
•    Long term residential permits could be given to the Tibetans settled in India for a long time.
•    Possibility to apply to OCI scheme under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
•    A long-term solution for people living in the Himalayan States having difficulty to acquire land and build up assets on these lands.
•    The Special Frontier Forces, the Tibetan Force fighting under India’s colours should be given proper recognition, first of all in terms of decorations and awards. India should not be ashamed to employ Tibetans jawans
•    The Special Frontier Forces should train a few jawans for the new Olympics Games in shooting, wrestling or other disciplines where Tibetans excel. An Olympic medal would be a great boost to the Tibetan community in exile and will prove to China that India attaches a great importance to the Tibetan presence in India.
•    Facilitate admission of Tibetan students in Indian educational institutions under a special quota.
All these different aspects should form part of a Tibet Policy whose objectives would be to reestablish the century old economic, cultural and religious links between India and Tibet and at the same time make the Indo-Tibet (now Indo-China) borders softer, even if it takes time to return to the 1950s open frontiers.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Perceptional intrusions and self-goals

According to PTI, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police has not noticed any 'intrusion bid by China in Arunachal during past 2 years'.
A few days ago, I mentioned on this blog that in February, Northeast Today reported a 'spurt in Chinese intrusions in Chaglagam'.
Of course, the ITBP or the Army will argue that these are not 'real' incursions; it is due simply due to the different 'perceptions' that the Chinese have of the LAC.

In other words, there are only 'perceptional intrusions'.
In an article in The Business Standard, respected journalist Sunanda K. Datta-Ray says: "With friends at home scoring ‘own goals’, India doesn’t need enemies abroad."
He elaborates: "For hundreds of years up to 1801 the kings of England also styled themselves kings of France. In short, England claimed France. But did French maps during those centuries show France as “disputed” territory? That would have been an “own goal” in soccer parlance. The French wouldn’t have tolerated it."

Obviously, the French are better at football ('soccer' for the Anglo-saxons).
Datta-Ray continues: "Yet, an 'own goal' loomed large in Kolkata’s Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) Auditorium last Monday with 'DISPUTED' printed boldly under Arunachal Pradesh in a large map of India’s Northeast. General Shankar Roy Choudhury twirled his impressive moustache centre stage, Lt-Gen Johnny Mukherjee looked relaxed on the left, Maj-Gen Arun Roye strutted at the podium. The director-general of the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), 'Ambassador' Rajesh Bhatia, said little but said it in the ponderous tones of an elder statesman. An unassuming 'Ambassador' Aloke Sen dispensed pragmatic wisdom. An even more retiring scholar, Sanjay Pulipaka of the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute for Asian Studies, dispensed little-known information on internal developments in Myanmar. ('Ambassador' is in inverted commas because this handle is both pretentious and irregular but that’s another story.)"

Datta-Ray rightly says: "The map proclaimed loud and clear that India accepts China has a case in demanding Arunachal Pradesh, refusing visas to people from there and objecting to dignitaries visiting the state!"
He adds: "The Chinese wouldn’t similarly shoot themselves in the foot (or should it be the head?). Their maps don’t admit any dispute over Aksai Chin or the strip of Kashmir acquired from Pakistan. On the contrary, K P S Menon, a seasoned diplomat who was, if anything, soft on China and the Soviets, thought China’s attitude was “cunning”. He recalled seeing a map in the Military Academy in Chengtu showing large portions of Kashmir and to the south of the McMahon Line as Chinese."
In my forthcoming book, The McMahon Line Saga, I show that right from the beginning of the 20th century, the Manchus and then Nationalist China had started their cartographic aggression against British India.
Though the British were far better at 'soccer', this did not prevent the Chinese to continue with their own Game.
But India to continue scoring against India, is another issue. 

'No intrusion bid by China in Arunachal during past 2 years'
September 21, 2012
Kimin (Arunachal Pradesh): The Indo-Tibetan Border Police on Friday said there was no report of any intrusion by China into the territory of Arunachal Pradesh in the last two years.
"There is no report of any such intrusion into the Indian territory in the past two years. The Indo-China border is peaceful and there is no hostile activities from either side," ITBP DG Ranjit Sinha said in reply to a query on a media report on Chinese activities along the LAC.
He said the Indian perception of the LAC was different from Beijing's and there was no breach of trust between the two parties.
"Troops from both sides occasionally visit the LAC as a regular exercise to get themselves acquainted with the environment. We conduct border personnel meetings at regular intervals to develop trust and friendship between both the neighbouring countries," he said.
The ITBP, raised as a guerrilla-cum-intelligence-cum- fighting force in the wake of Chinese aggression in 1962, at present has 50 battalions of which 20 are deployed on the Indo-China border.
"The force, which was converted to an armed force in 1976, mans the 3,488 km Indo-Tibet border from Karakoram Pass in Ladakh to Jachep-La in Arunachal Pradesh at altitudes ranging between 9000 and 18,700 feet," Sinha added.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The last chance to avoid War?

As a way to better understand the 1962 Sino-Indian conflict, I am posting here a Memorandum of Conversation between Zhang Wenji, Director in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China and and the Indian Ambassador to China, G. Parthasarathy. 
This exchange, of a series of 3, occurred in Beijing in July 1961.
It will be the last serious discussion on the border issue last before the War, a year later.
This document comes from the Chinese archives (India still keeps the archival material related to the conflict close to its chest). 
It has been made available in the Cold War International History Project of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (Collection: Sino-Pakistani Relations in the Cold War).

Memorandum of Three Conversations Between Director Zhang Wenji
and the Indian Ambassador.
Secret Document 574  (Foreign Ministry Document)
File number: 105-01056-03
17 July 1961

Addressed are the future of Sino-Indian relations, Sino-Indian border issues, and India's focus on such issues as Bhutan, Sikkim and Pakistan 
Time: 17 July 1961, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Location: Shanghai Peace Hotel Translator: Chen Hui Stenographer: Li Danan

Zhang: Yesterday the Premier suggested to the Foreign Secretary that the two of us continue talks. Even though [this], as an informal, candid conversation between friends, cannot resolve issues, it too has advantages and is helpful in seeking solutions. The Ambassador has been in China for three years; [he] is conscientious about [his] work, and a person of integrity. During these three years, there have unfortunately been setbacks in the two countries’ relations; this is not [due to] personal factors. Before long the Ambassador will return to his country, and by coincidence the Foreign Secretary has come to China and the two sides have held talks. Now there are still a few days left: the Ambassador can have contact with the Foreign Ministry side, and exchange views and seek solutions. When the next ambassador comes, we hope we can also have more contact [with him]. Although things did not go as hoped during the Ambassador’s term, [he] has still made contributions toward cooperation between the two sides. Based on yesterday’s conversation, [our] initial impression is that, although there are frank and intense disagreements, there are several points on which [we] completely agree or are close to agreement, and these are:
  1. Both countries have expressed the need for friendly [relations], and from a long-term point of view, friendship between the two countries will still prevail.
  2. The situation over the last few years has been unsatisfactory, and both sides have differing views as to the cause, but both think we should adopt a positive attitude and improve relations with constructive steps, and at the very least not add to the difficulties or make the situation get worse.
  3. In order to seek solutions and advance understanding together, the two sides both hope that each can feel and understand the other’s predicament; at the same time, each also need to put themselves in the other’s shoes and make allowances for them.
In today’s informal, friendly conversation, if the Ambassador has views he wishes to be conveyed to my countries’ leaders, [I] will be certain to report them faithfully and make [sure] that both sides have a correct understanding.

Parthasarathy: [I] welcome Director Zhang’s opening remarks. I am in almost total agreement with your assessment. The Foreign Secretary and I both consider the two sides’ free, candid talks to be the most beneficial ones. Although the disagreements have been somewhat intense, it is still better to speak what is on our minds. This is a vital matter involving the friendship of one billion people. We have a responsibility to promote the restoration of relations, [and] it is no good to not speak what is in our hearts. We have divided the issues into two aspects. One aspect is specific, predominant issues; [these] can be boiled down to border issues. Another aspect is other factors that have caused the two countries’ relations to worsen these two years. We feel that the Chinese leaders’ sentiments toward India lack understanding in some aspects. For example, on such issues as Bhutan, Sikkim, Pakistan, and criticism in the newspapers, the difference of opinions between the two sides has widened. China’s leaders gave a fairly lengthy explanation on the issue of criticism in the newspapers, making mention of their views and the reasons for criticism. What worries me are not the criticisms themselves, but whether they signify a change in [China’s] assessment of India. We two countries have different social and political systems, but [their] goal is still the same; it is only that the methods [we] use to attain that goal differ, that’s all. The reports in Chinese newspapers cause people to feel that there have been major changes in India’s domestic and foreign policies, as if India has become reactionary, no longer progressive. This is a lack of respect for India. It is very difficult to bring the two countries’ relations back to normal.
There are major differences of opinion on border issues, and it will require some time to be able to get agreement. Until then [we] should try to keep [our] differences of opinion on other fronts from widening. [We] must be in contact more, cooperate more, eliminate misunderstandings, and create a favorable atmosphere. Yesterday’s conversation was somewhat sharp, but that’s not at all to say that [the sides] did not consider the other side. [I will] now raise two or three points:
(1) Bhutan and Sikkim issues. Premier Zhou said, The Sino-Sikkimese borders were stipulated in a treaty in 1890, it is not a problem. But the Chinese side has not recognized India’s right to represent Bhutan and Sikkim[2]

Zhang: I very much appreciated the way you put it; there are disagreements, but [we] must consider things as a whole. As long as we [do so] for the sake of honesty, there is nothing to fear in talks being somewhat sharp. This is much better than mutual criticisms in official letter exchanges and in public opinion. [We] must not create public tension; the governments both feel pressured, [and it] runs counter to both sides’ desire for improvement. [As for] criticism in the newspapers, India’s criticisms far outnumber [China’s]; we don’t attach much importance to it. Our newspapers have also carried some news about India that is entirely of a reporting nature, [with] almost no comment. The Ambassador said that China has changed its assessment of India and holds that India has become reactionary. Yesterday the Foreign Secretary said India’s foreign policy has not essentially changed for the past 15 years. We welcome this promise. If one is to speak of any changes in both sides’ estimation of the other, one must first say that it is India that feels there has been a great change in China’s domestic and foreign policy. China’s national leaders have not voiced any objections whatsoever to India’s domestic and foreign policy. The Indian side says it does not know what changes there have been to Indian foreign policy. But judging from actual behavior, one cannot help but feel that there has been a change. When Sino-Indian relations were good, India held that China was interested in peace. But since last year, India’s leaders have repeatedly implied that China is keen on [having a] cold war. An Indian leader even said he did not know of any country that loved peace as much as a certain country does, nor did he know of any country that loves peace less than China does. As for China’s domestic policy, the deputy head of India’s Foreign Ministry, Mrs. Menon, once said that China is a concentration camp, a Hitler-style totalitarian regime. China’s leaders do not want to make direct criticisms of India. Yesterday, Vice-Premier Chen Yi raised the point that both sides should [try to] lessen the differences of opinion and do their best to find common points, reducing differences and preventing them from surfacing. The Ambassador says that the main focus should be on border issues; when Premier Zhou visited Delhi last year, it was in the very hopes that it would lead to a resolution of border issues. Over the past two years we have negotiated about borders with Burma and Nepal, and achieved resolution through friendly consultation. There has been development in relations with both [these] parties, as the Ambassador also knows.

Parthasarathy: I still do not have a precise enough understanding of some of the issues discussed yesterday. India has a right and a responsibility to represent Bhutan and Sikkim in handling foreign affairs; what is China’s attitude toward this?

Zhang: Yesterday, the Foreign Secretary raised this question under the subject of border issues. There are no problems between China and Sikkim in terms of borders. There are already stipulations [regarding them] in a late 19th-century agreement. With the exception of a small area south of the McMahon Line, there is not much disagreement on the Sino-Bhutanese border, either. I will say it again: [China] does not cross the McMahon Line - the problem is in fact nonexistent. The Ambassador raised the [subject] of India’s right to represent Bhutan and Sikkim in diplomatic negotiations; this went beyond the scope of border issues. The Foreign Secretary says India has a special relationship with Bhutan and Sikkim; [I] don’t know what this refers to.

Parthasarathy: This was stipulated on the basis of a treaty. Based on two-way treaties, Bhutan and Sikkim agreed to accept India’s guidance on foreign relations and to have India handle foreign affairs. What are the implications in China’s saying it respects “proper” Indian relations with Bhutan and Sikkim?

Zhang: This is a general expression, and it is also not limited to this issue; it is common in international affairs. I personally do not quite understand why India wants to treat Sikkim as a protectorate; this kind of practice is rare in Asian and African countries. We have no ambitions regarding the territory of any country, and we do not carry out subversive activities [against foreign regimes]. In an official letter, the Indian side made a reference to Chinese leaders in Tibet stating that Bhutan, Sikkim and Ladakh are parts of China, [and we] want to recover them. This does not merit a response. China’s leaders have never said this kind of thing. India has a general consulate and other agencies in Tibet; they can find out that there is no such talk or activities. India is just basing itself on reports from Western news agencies; it is not worth taking seriously. That we did not reply does not mean we affirming this.

Parthasarathy: We were not basing ourselves on Western reports, but on our own intelligence. It is said that you broadcast this news. We consider this to be a serious matter, [so] we brought it up with you. Now you say this didn’t happen, but it is also possible that irresponsible people did say such things; you can also investigate. We would not criticize you based solely on Western reports. As for [your] saying, “protectorate,” this is not a very accurate term (A LOOSE TERM)[3] . This is, in fact, a historical relationship; based on the stipulations in the treaty, they ask us to offer guidance in foreign diplomacy. China’s saying that it respects a “proper” relationship has made people doubtful as to whether you respect the India-Bhutan and India-Sikkim treaties, or whether you recognize India’s right to represent Bhutan and Sikkim in foreign diplomacy.

Zhang: You say India’s criticism is based on Tibetan broadcasts, but you have never supplied specific information. Your letter was very vague, [and] you have long since made general statements that there was no such thing [happening].
Regarding [India’s] traditional relationships with Bhutan and Sikkim. India says that based on the treaty, only India has the right to handle their foreign relations. But Bhutan and Sikkim are also in communication with Tibet. For the moment [we] won’t speak of the historical relationships; in recent years, there have also been communications. For example, they have representatives stationed in Tibet. Their representatives have remained there following the India-Bhutan and India-Sikkim treaties; this is a fact. It is very clear what we mean by saying we respect India’s relations with Bhutan and Sikkim; we are very cautious, and unwilling to damage China’s relations with Bhutan or Sikkim. We also do not [want to] damage China’s relations with India. The two countries have not, in official meetings ( “????”) discussed Sino-Bhutanese or Sino-Sikkimese border issues, because at the time the two countries’ premiers were only authorized to discuss Sino-Indian border issues; nor did India in any way believe Bhutan or Sikkim to be part of India. As regards the Indo-Bhutanese treaty, India and Bhutan’s explanations are mutually contradictory; Bhutan believes they have the right to handle foreign affairs. In any case, we do not have any diplomatic contacts with them.
Generally speaking, the tension in [our] two countries’ relations over the past two years has concerned Sino-Indian border issues. [China] has made great efforts to alleviate [tensions] and seek ways of resolution. You say that India is doing this, too. That’s good, but now India tends to sideline Sino-Indian border issues and instead focus discussions on the issues of Bhutan, Sikkim and Pakistan, etc; this will not serve to narrow [our] differences of opinion – rather, it will broaden [our] differences of opinion. This does nothing to help resolve the issues. Our chief consideration should be Sino-Indian border issues; there is definite danger with this aspect, and none at all with the other issues. Yesterday the Foreign Secretary said that the borders ought to be considered as a whole, starting with Kashmir and ending with Burma. Here one should not overlook the fact that there also exist third-party nations, such as Nepal. We respect India’s relations with Bhutan and Sikkim and have done nothing to damage [them]. We recognize the Sino-Sikkimese border and do not see any necessity for further mention of this issue. If [India] has ulterior motives [in raising this issue], then at the very least they lack understanding. We cannot confuse primary [issues] with secondary ones.

Parthasarathy: I am personally surprised that the issue is getting bigger. It was our hope that the issue could be limited to the scope of Sino-Indian border issues. But the difficulty lies with your use of this term “proper relations”. During Sino-Indian official meetings, you also refused to discuss the Sino-Bhutanese and Sino-Sikkimese borders. We should first discuss issues of substance. [We] would like to ask whether the Chinese side would agree to talk if Bhutan entrusted India with discussing Sino-Bhutanese border issues. This is the crux of the issue. As for the Kashmir issue, India is very sensitive about it. You are discussing border issues with a country that has no right to negotiate; it is impossible not to consider this hostile. Yesterday Premier Zhou raised some practical issues, but from a legal standpoint, two countries cannot discuss the territory of a third country; [they] ought to be mindful of popular opinion.

Zhang: India believes China has a hidden agenda concerning Bhutan and Sikkim and is expanding the issue; this idea is strange and hard to understand. China has done nothing in this aspect over the past two or three years. Our relations with Bhutan and Sikkim have not increased - they have decreased. The main disagreement over the Sino-Bhutanese border map is [the area] south of the McMahon Line. Currently the two sides are at an impasse on the McMahon Line. India’s submission of a letter demanding discussion of the Sino-Bhutanese border, and also touching on the McMahon Line, only expanded the quarrel – [it was for this reason] we did not reply.
As for the Kashmir issue, Premier Zhou has repeatedly discussed, in clear-cut terms, our position and predicament. There is nothing to add. The Ambassador recognizes that China can, when necessary, be in temporary contact with the local authorities. This is also a recognition that there are practical problems that must be handled. But this idea of the Ambassador’s still cannot resolve the practical difficulties. We could not wait until after bloodshed occurs to talk; this would create new tensions and be detrimental to our relations with neighboring countries. This will only cause the imperialist elements intent on destroying China’s relations with neighboring countries to clap their hands for joy.
As regards the Sino-Indian border issue, the Foreign Secretary spoke well; after the Sino-Indian officials’ reports were released, none of the three possible methods could be used, [so] we should consider a kind of fourth option – which is, both sides reconsider [the issues]. We set great store by this important statement [when it] made by an official so sincere as the Foreign Secretary. We welcome this suggestion, and agree that we should consider issues on this foundation. [We] should talk about facts that should be ascertained – which ones [we] can accept, and which we could consider. I am very interested in how the Indian government views this. If it is believed that the facts supplied by the Indian side are all unassailable, and the facts supplied by the Chinese side are all incorrect and worthless, not only could I personally not agree, any fair-minded person would not agree. The concluding section of India’s report even said the Chinese side’s information can prove that India’s traditional line is correct. This statement not only disregards the facts, it is also an insult to me personally. I have held in the proper respect, and maintained personal friendship with, Indian representatives such as Mehta and Gopal; I know this is not an issue between individuals, but guided by Indian government policy. This statement from the Indian side does not hold water at all. Of course it is difficult for the two sides to have total consensus on the facts, but this is no barrier to seeking resolution on practical problems provided it does not harm the interests of either side. Both sides [can] yield to and forgive the other – this is also the normal way [of doing things]. Officials’ reports from both sides deserve regard, but one cannot get tangled up in the details. The relationship between our two countries is too important; we should view it from a greater distance, from an elevated height, considering the big picture, and seek resolution. The two sides will not necessarily agree on specific views, but should understand the overall spirit.

Parthasarathy: This is a difficult problem. For the two sides to have consensus on the facts is difficult. In truth, what the officials presented was not one report, it was two reports. The officials were assigned to examine and double-check the [written] information, determining the points [we] agree on and those we do not, but the result was completely divergent viewpoints. How are the two countries’ premiers to consider [the issues] with two piles of completely opposing facts? [My] personal view is, might it be possible to seek a solution starting with ascertaining those points that require further clarification?

Zhang: After India issued the officials’ report, Premier Nehru flatly stated that there could be no discussion unless India’s requirements were accepted. Under these circumstances, China prefers not to state its stance for the time being, unless we are prepared to squabble. Regarding the officials’ reports, I believe that besides the differing points, there are certain portions on which [we] agree or are relatively close. Our side once suggested writing this, but the Indian side refused. As for China’s border negotiations with Burma and Nepal, there is some experience that can serve as a reference. Ordinarily speaking, when there is disagreement on the facts, there are two possible methods of resolution: (1) If the two sides both have definite grounds [for their stance], following an earnest, objective comparison, [they] can determine which side has somewhat greater grounds, and consider from a political standpoint which [country] finally getting the [land] would do more for peace and the two countries’ relationship. (2) If the two sides’ views differ greatly and it is impossible to bring them into line, each can keep to its own position and consider, from a political standpoint, what kind of resolution would be more beneficial. Of course, the differences of opinion between China and India are somewhat greater, but the importance of Sino-Indian friendship is also far greater; both can continue to think about whether there is anything else to consider. The two sides should meet halfway - it is possible to resolve the issues. China and India cannot stay locked in long-term mutual confrontation; there must eventually be peace and friendship. As long as both sides have the desire, the question of method is an easy one to resolve. [I] won’t speak of the past; yesterday’s talks prove that we are willing to resolve the issues.