Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Advancing Borders of the Chinese Empire

The advancing Chinese LAC
My article The Advancing Borders of the Chinese Empire is posted on the website of the Indian Defence Review.

The incidents in the Depsang Plain, near the Karakoram Pass in April or more recently, in Chumar in South Ladakh, are the continuance of Nehru’s blind spot for China. There is today a huge difference of ‘perception’ on the location of the Line of Actual Control which over the years has been moving towards the South and the West. The 1959 LAC was indeed far more advantageous for India than the present LAC.

At the end of August 1959, a serious border incident occurred in the Subansiri sector of the then NEFA. According to a Note sent by the Indian government to its Chinese counterpart, “On August 25, 1959, a strong Chinese detachment crossed into Indian territory (in Lonju) south of Migyitun on the NEFA border and fired without notice on an Indian forward picket. They arrested the entire picket which was twelve strong but eight Indian personnel somehow managed to escape.”
A few days later, the issue came to the Parliament. As the Migyitun/Longju skirmish was being discussed, Nehru’s Government was also asked about a road supposedly cutting through Aksai Chin in Ladakh. For the first time, Nehru conceded that China had built a road. However, he explained that although Indian maps showed the area within India’s territory, the boundary in Ladakh was not ‘defined’. He stated, “Nobody had marked it.” The Prime Minister added that Delhi was prepared to discuss specific areas ‘in dispute or as yet unsettled’, though not the ‘considerable regions’ claimed by Chinese maps.
The Aksai Chin was definitely Indian territory though the area was “Very remote and uninhabited”, said the Prime Minister who, on March 22 that year, had written to Premier Zhou En-lai on the subject. Nehru could not escape and remain vague as he had done in the past. He had to make a detailed statement; he even agreed to release a White Paper on the border issue. Nehru admitted that the boundary in Ladakh was not sufficiently defined and that Aksai Chin was a “barren uninhabited region without a vestige of grass”. He further confessed the road was, “an important connection” for the Chinese though in any case, in comparison with the NEFA, the dispute over Aksai Chin was a “minor” thing. India was, however, prepared to discuss the issue on the basis of treaties, maps, usage and geography.
Nehru admitted that the boundary in Ladakh was not sufficiently defined…
It was a real bombshell for India. The cat was out of the bag!

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