Friday, July 31, 2020

More on the Recruitment of Tibetans in the PLA

The Tibet Military Region Political Commissar at a recruitment site
I recently posted two articles on the Tibetans in the People’s Liberation Army.
One PLA using Tibetans against India was published by and the second one about Tibetan Faces in the PLA described the presence of the Tibetans in the PLA.
According to The Tibet Daily, the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) Research Group had investigated the possibility of new recruitment of troops for the TAR.
I wrote for “As nobody in India would like to have a deadly fight with Tibetan soldiers and officers, the issue needs to be closely followed”.
Now, The Global Times reports that the Ministry of National Defense of China has released a military recruitment  video for 2020, showcasing the country's military capability and its armed forces, domestically developed weapons and aircraft: “it has already racked up millions of views on social media,” adds the tabloid which explains: “China's Army Day is marked on August 1 every year, the founding day of the People's Liberation Army. Ahead of the anniversary, authorities in several cities and provinces also released recruitment videos featuring local characteristics to motivate young people to join the army.”

Need of Soldiers and Officers
Apparently China is in dire need to find soldiers and officers; special policies have been set up for the recruitment: “According to the preferential policies for college student army recruitment, junior college students who join the army will be directly admitted to full-time university without taking an exam when they retire,” notes The Global Times.
At the end of the article, for the first time, it gave figures for the TAR: “The recruitment drive ends on August 15. Though the total number of people who have registered so far across the country has not been published, authorities in Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region revealed that 5,800 people in the region had already signed up.”
Whether the new recruits will join the PLA, the PAP or the militia is not clear.

Another Recruitment Camp
On July 8, the Tibet Military Region (TMD) announced that military colleges and universities, recruiting student soldiers, had just conducted a cultural examination in conjunction with the 2020 national university entrance examinations.
It was said that over 1,200 students from the TMD arrived at the examination site by car (sic).
After checking their body temperature, verifying their identity and signing, on the spot, the students drew lots to determine their examination room.
This year, due to the COVID-19 epidemic, recruiting examinations for military schools could only be done at examination sites set up by the PLA, a Chinese website added.
Since May, the TMD has been organizing examination centers for students in Lhasa "for centralized preparation of examinations and unified management and guidance."
The Chinese website explains that during the preparation period, "in addition to hiring famous teachers from local colleges and universities to teach these students, the TMD’s Military Training and Vocational Training Center also encouraged students to form support groups, in order to take advantage of their advantages and strengths and to improve the effectiveness of their learning together."
The head of the TMD’s Military Training and Vocational Training Center declared that the candidates for Tibet come from several places located at very different altitudes.
Well, there are not so many low-altitude areas in Tibet!!
It is a rather strange remark.
The article however continues: "In view of this situation, the Center decided to bring together all the candidates in Lhasa two months in advance in order to create conditions and allow the candidates to quickly adapt to the Lhasa environment."
As I said earlier, it is a serious issue for India and for the Tibetans.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Chuva and Chuje: Obscure Chinese Claims in the Central Sector

Chinese claims in the Central Sector
(click to enlarge)
It was recently reported that the populations of the Lahaul and Spiti, and Kinnaur districts of the Himachal Pradesh were becoming increasingly nervous; they expressed serious concerns as China has been building roads leading to the Indian villages near the border.
The Hindustan Times wrote: “Road construction along the Indo-China border, on no man’s land, came to fore after villagers of Kunnu-Charang in Kinnaur raised an alarm and informed the local administration and border patrol party.”
The article further noted: “China has accelerated work of road construction along the Indian border in Tango and Yamrang regions, which are close to Chitkul and Charang villages on the Indian side. Both Yamrang and Tango in China are controlled [by the] Tibetan Autonomous Region.”
Though there is no known villages with these names in Tsamda (Zanda) county of Ngari Prefecture, it is possible that these are new villages or the names have been changed.
According to The Hindustan Times, the Indian villagers have asked security agencies to increase their vigil along the border after the incidents in Ladakh and in view of China's renewed activities (road construction and two air incursions which are said to have taken place in the Kaurik sector in April).
When a team of the armed Forces, accompanied by local villagers conducted a recce near the border, they are said to have spotted some road construction on the Chinese side.
A villager told the media that China was building a road to the Yamrang village. “There is no mobile network in the region and road connectivity is poor on the Indian side. There is fear among villagers that the Chinese troops could invade the Indian territory,” said the article.
The Indian Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police manning the border, are now on high alert.

A Disputed Area?
While most of the Indian media reported that the area was not ‘disputed’ by China, it is not the case. Areas called by China, Chuva and Chuje have been on their long ‘shopping’ list to extend their territory since the end of the 1950s.

A Note from Historical Division
On July 30, 1980, the Historical Division of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) sent a Secret Note to the East Asia (EA) Division, dealing with China. This was with reference to the claims/occupation of some Indian areas in the Central Sector by China.
The Note described the Sino-Indian Boundary in the Middle Sector.
It said that during the 1960 talks between the officials of the Government of India and China on the Sino-Indian Boundary question, the Indian officials gave their description of the boundary in the Middle Sector:

Map showing the Indian territory 'disputed' by China
One can see the coordinates given by China and India in 1960
“This sector of the boundary also has the natural features of watersheds, mountain passes and river valleys. Its location is as follows: Starting from the terminal point of the western sector, it runs southward along the watershed west of the Pare River and the Chuva River, passes by the coverging point of the Pare River and the Spiti River, crosses the Siangchuan (Sutlej) River west of Shipki Pass, continues southward along the watershed and crosses the Jadhganga River west of Tsungsha. It then turns east, passes through Mana Pass, Mount Kamet, skirts along the south side of Wuje, Sangcha and Lapthal, again runs along the watershed, passing through Darma Pass, and reaches the tri-junction of China, India and Nepal.”
The Historical Division said that the Indian officials brought forward clear and conclusive evidence:
“to show that the alignment as shown by them in the Middle Sector had, throughout its length a traditional and customary basis reaching back through many centuries, and that, in addition, this boundary had been recognized by Chinese Governments and been confirmed through diplomatic exchanges, treaties and agreements."
Consequently, these areas were occupied in the early 1950s.
The officials further presented to representative evidences:
“relating to different aspects of administration, to show that Indian Governments had exercised full, continuous and uninterrupted control over all the areas right up to the traditional alignment.”
Where are these papers now? Nobody knows.
They are probably kept in some almirahs of South Block.
Who has the keys? It is a real issue as there is no more Historical Division in the MEA.

The Chinese Views
As always the Chinese argued that the Indo-China boundary had never been formally delimited and that only a traditional customary boundary line between two countries existed.
China provided its description of the boundary alignment in the Middle Sector.
Incidentally, the boundary was 'not defined' simply because there was no Indo-China boundary, but only a frontier between India and Tibet, two friendly countries.
The Note continued,quoting the Chinese views:
“The middle sector of the traditional customary line, starts from the terminal point of the western sector, runs southwards along the watershed between the Pare and the Chuva Rivers on the one hand and the other tributaries of the Spiti River on the other, and passes through peak 6,526 (approximately 78° 30' E, 32° 21' N) on this watershed. Several kilometers west of the junction of the Chuva and the Spiti Rivers, the boundary meets the Spiti River and, running along it, reaches its junction with the Pare River (approximately 78° 36' E, 32° 02' N). South of the junction of Pare and the Spiti Rivers, the boundary passes through peak 6,791 (approximately 78° 45' E, 31° 54' N) and runs southwards along the mountain ridge until it crosses the junction of the Siangchuang and the Hupsang Rivers approximately 7 kilometres west of Shipki Pass.”
The confluence of the Spiti and Pare rivers is definitively India’s territory, but the Chinese claims remain as shows this recent map of the TAR.
In 1960, the Chinese officials however contented that the evidences provided by the Indian officials “had nothing the do with the disputed areas”. It was a blatant lie, but as a result Beijing claimed:
  1. Chuva-Chuje (till Sumdo village)
  2. The area West of Shipki La Pass;
  3. The area that they call Sang and Tsungsha and Puling Sumdo (known in India as Nilang, Jadhang and Pulam SUmdo) and
  4. Wuje, Sangcha and Lapthal (Wuje is a Chinese name for Barahoti, Lapthal and Sangchamalla are two adjacent valleys).
The Note of the Historical Division concluded that the Chinese claimed a total area of 2,000 sq. kms as ‘disputed area’ in the Middle Sector.
The Note further quoted Premier Zhou Enlai’s letter dated November 15, 1962 addressed to the leaders of Asian and African countries on Sino-Indian Boundary question, confirming the same:
“In the Middle Sector, the places disputed by the Indian Government east of the traditional customary line have always belonged to China. They covered a total area of 2,000 sq. kms. The inhabitants are nearly all Tibetans. The Tibet local Government had all along exercised the jurisdiction over these places and its archives to this day contain document pertaining to this exercise of jurisdiction.”
The Kinnauris certainly do not consider themselves as Tibetans.

Recent Chinese map showing parts of Kinnaur as Chinese
Did the Chinese dropped their claims?
It appears that later, the Chinese LAC in the Middle Sector conceded “the entire territory claimed by India except in the Barahoti area as lying within India’s actual control. In the Barahoti area administrative and army personnels of the two sides are not being permitted.”
Army personnel may not been permitted, but every years Chinese PLA are intruding in the area.
In any case, the fact that Chuva and Chuje is not in Beijing's LAC claim, does not mean that these areas in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh, are no more claimed to be within the Chinese territory; it just mean that India has ‘temporarily' control over these places. See the Chinese map above.
Historically, the customary border was east of Kaurik, and this China can't change it, but this will not make Beijing drop its claim.
The building of roads in these areas is therefore a serious issue to be looked into by the Government, including the MEA.

Another reason for dropping the LAC claim
In 1960, the India Officials quizzed their Chinese counterparts: where were Chuva and Chuje?
China seemed to be unaware. They could not give the proper coordinates.
Here are the questions of the Indian Officials and the Chinese vague answers.
Q. 12.-Chuva and Chuje were alleged to be places "under Indian occupation". These places were not marked on the map. The Indian side would like to have details of their location and area.

A.- Chuva and Chuje were to the east of the boundary and west of place called Chulupu. Chuje was to the east of Chuva.

Q. 13.-The Chinese side mentioned that Chuva and Chuje were to the east of the Chinese alignment and west of Chulupu. The Indian side would like to have the coordinates of Chuva and Chuje. Were these villages or camping-grounds?

A.-Chuva and Chuje were two villages. Chuva river was a small river west of Sumdo. The Chinese line met the Spiti river a few kilometres west of the converging-point of the Chuva and the Spiti rivers. Then it ran along the Spiti river upto the junction where it met the Pare river (approximately 78' 36' E. Long. 32° 02' N. Lat.)
[the point given is not the confluence of the Pare and Spiti rivers, my cmment]

Q. 14.-Chuva and Chuje were stated to be two villages. The Indian side would like to know how far and in what direction from Sumdo they were located.

A.-Chuva was to the north of Sumdo. Chuje was to the east of Sumdo.
[There was no such villages near Sumdo].

In 1960,  during the meetings between the Officials of India and China, the Chinese asked some questions to their Indian counterpart. I am reproducing here the Chinese questions as well as the Indian responses. It refers to the area discussed above.

Middle Sector

Chinese Question (Q) 1
Was the watershed between the Spiti and the Pare rivers referred to by the Indian side a continuous mountain ridge or did it again move on to spurs? Before the India alignment crossed the Pare river what ridge did it follow?

Indian Answer (A)
The watershed between Spiti and Pare rivers lay along high and continuous mountains and not along spurs. Before crossing the Pare river the Indian alignment lay along the ridge lying to the north-west Kauirik.

Q. 2.
What was the location of Kauirik village? From inset 'A' on the map handed over by the Indian side, it appeared that it was situated north-west of the junction of the Pare and the Spiti rivers. Did the Indian alignment also pass in the vicinity the junction of the Pare and the Spiti rivers as indicated on the Indian map?

A- Kauirik was situated at approximately Long. 78° 39' E. and Lat. 32° 06' N, which was about five miles north-east of the junction of the Pare and Spiti rivers. The Indian alignment lay immediately to the north and east of Kauirik and cut the Pare river about a mile south of Kauirik.

Q. 3
The Indian side stated that south of the Pare river their alignment ascended a spur. To what their mountain range did this spur belong?

A- The spur south of the Pare river, along which the Indian alignment belonged to the Zaskar Wange.

Q. 4
The Indian side stated that their alignment crossed the Siang-chuan (Sutlej) river at its bend. What were the co-ordinates of the crossing? What were the geographical features followed by the Indian alignment from Peak Leo Pargial to Shipki Pass?

A- The Indian alignment crossed the Sutlej at approximately Long 8° 44' E and 32° 52' N.
From Peak Leo Pargial the alignment descended along a spur, crossed the Sutlej and again mounted the spur on the opposite bank of the river to the Shipki Pass.

The other questions were about Shipki-la.

In this context, a letter from Zhou Enlai, the Prime Minister of China addressed to his Indian counterpart is interesting.

Beijing, December 17, 1959.

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
Thank you for your letter of November 16, 1959. Although the Indian Government's opinions regarding the prevention of border clashes are still a certain distance away from the Chinese Government's proposal of November 7 and part of them obviously lack fairness, it is heartening that in your letter you have indicated the, desire of trying to avoid all border clashes and to settle the boundary disputes between the two countries by peaceful methods.
The Chinese Government's proposal of November 7 for the withdrawal of the armed forces of the two countries 20 kilometers respectively along the entire border is aimed at thoroughly eliminating the risk of border clashes not wholly foreseeable, completely changing the present tense situation on the border where the two countries are facing each other in arms, and creating a favourable atmosphere of mutual confidence between the two countries. These aims are unattainable by other provisional measures. Furthermore, the adoption of this measure pending the delimitation of the boundary will in no way prejudice the advancing by each side of its claims when negotiations for the settlement of the boundary question take place. Therefore, the Chinese Government still earnestly hopes that we can reach agreement on such a measure for the sake of friendship between our two countries in the past and for hundreds of years to come. As to how far the armed forces of each country should withdraw, the Chinese Government is entirely willing to decide on a distance which will be deemed appropriate by both sides through consultation with the Indian Government.
Pending the above-mentioned agreement, the Chinese Government, in a conciliatory spirit and out of the desire to move toward the withdrawal of armed forces along the entire border, is prepared to agree first to reach a partial solution by applying the proposal you have made in your letter for the non-stationing of the armed forces of both sides at Longju to the other disputed places on the border as well. In the eastern sector of the Sino-Indian border, armed Indian personnel once occupied Longju and are now still in occupation of Khinzemane. In the western sector of the Sino-Indian border, armed Indian personnel are up to now in occupation of Shipki Pass, Parigas Sang, Tsungsha, Puling-sumdo, Chuva, Chuje, Sangcha and Lapthal. Most of these places which definitely belong to China were occupied successively by armed Indian personnel after the signing of the 1954 Agreement on Trade and Intercourse Between the Tibet Region of China and India in which China and India for the first time put forward the Five Principles of peaceful coexistence. Among them Puling-sumdo is one of the ten places which the Chinese Government agreed to open as markets for trade in the Ari area of the Tibet region of China as specified in Article II Section 2 of the 1954 Agreement. Now since the Indian Government holds a different opinion on the ownership of these places, the Chinese Government proposes that no armed personnel of either side be stationed at any of them...

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Gust of wind over the Himalayas

My article Gust of wind over the Himalayas appeared in The Daily Guardian

The Rafale’s arrival will have a strong deterrent effect on China. For, despite Beijing’s info warfare overdrive, the fact is the Dragon can’t match the French plane today.
Indian Air Force pilots inside the Rafale aircraft at Dassault Aviation Facility, in Merignac on Monday. The first five IAF Rafale jets took off from France on Monday and are likely to arrive at the Air Force station in Ambala on 29 July.

“Tout est bien qui finit bien (All is well that ends well),” says the French proverb. Yes, the Rafale fighter jets have come. In 2001, the government decided that it needed 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for the Indian Air Force (IAF), thus started the saga of selecting and acquiring the plane which fitted best the requirement of the nation’s strategic needs. And now in July 2020, nineteen years later, the five planes flew in to Ambala!
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, while on a visit to Ladakh, complimented the IAF for “its rapid deployment of assets” at forward locations on the eastern Ladakh border, after China walked in at several spots, uninvited. Singh added that the Balakot strike and the current combat readiness have sent a strong message to India’s “adversaries”. Well, let’s hope China gets it.
 A day later, a national Indian newspaper reported that the IAF Commanders’ Conference would be carrying out “an in-depth review of the country’s air defence system which will include deployment of the first batch of Rafale fighter jets in the Ladakh sector”. It added that the main focus of the Conference was to deliberate on the overall situation in eastern Ladakh and in other sensitive sectors including in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Uttarakhand.
There is no doubt that the Central Sector, especially Barahoti, Lapthal and Sangchamalla, is today particularly vulnerable to fresh large-scale Chinese intrusions. Due to the difficulty of the terrain, a strong Air Force could be of a great help, or at least a deterrence.
The commanders would have discussed the deployment of first batch of five Rafale jets in Ladakh, soon after the French aircraft is officially inducted in the IAF fleet. Few in India are aware of the meaning of the word ‘Rafale’; it is simply a “gust of wind” in French.
An initial Request for Information had been issued in 2001; the Request for Proposal was only released in 2007, but the then Defence Minister, A.K. Antony wanted to add new clauses to his already complicated Defence Procurement Policy (his successor, Manohar Parrikar, said that though he read the policy, he could not understand it!). More ‘complications’ were in stock, but after a long process, in January 2012, the French firm Dassault Aviation was finally selected among six contenders for supplying 126 planes to the IAF.
Many then thought that the “Big Deal” would soon be signed; three years later, it was still going through incredible procedural issues! The reasons were not the quality of the combat aircraft, but rather more bureaucratic and political hurdles coming in the way.
While on a visit to France in April 2015, realising the difficulty with the transfer of technology to Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and to avoid going back to the starting blocks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi opted for 36 “off-the-shelf” planes. At that time, the French probably believed that “off-the-shelf” would be rather simple; they probably thought that like in a supermarket; you take what you need from the shelf and proceed to the cashier.
Paris soon realised that India was an incredible democracy where media can write on behalf of competitors; anyone wanting some publicity can go to the court and delay the process for months or years and the Opposition can always find fault in the process and block the functioning of Parliament.
This is without taking into account the babus, the most “efficient” in the world. Once everything was decided, they stepped in; the Law Ministry raised several new points about liability, bank guarantees, arbitration and a higherthan-usual offset clause.
A “senior official involved with the matter” (how a babu dealing with such sensitive contracts can freely speak to journalists is a mystery) told a prominent Delhi-based newspaper that he was “left wondering as to how India could agree to all the stipulations suggested by the French side”.
But at the end, as always in India, the “truth” prevails, and in September 2016, India and France signed an inter-governmental agreement (IGA) for the acquisition of 36 fighter jets. The saga was far from over; some Opposition party wanted the details of the armament supplied by Dassault and its partners. As a result, the IAF would have to wait four more years before getting what they were crying for.
Does it mean the Rafale will be a game changer? Probably not, because we can still hope that President Xi Jinping has some wisdom left and will not enlarge the confrontation into an armed conflict; but nothing is sure with a deeply unstable Middle Kingdom.
The arrival of the Rafale jets will have in any case a strong deterrent effect on China. Despite Beijing’s propaganda (called today Information Warfare), China can’t match the French plane today. It is not that Beijing is not trying.
On 20 July, Jamie Hunter reported in The War Zone: “China is building a brand-new variant of its Chengdu J-20 Mighty Dragon stealth fighter. Chinese air power watchers and a number of media stories suggest that the production of the long-expected J-20B commenced this summer. The variant will likely feature upgraded power-plants that will add thrust-vectoring controls (TVC) as well as increased power to the J-20’s capabilities, and possibly more.”
Something China should not forget is: If the Indian political leadership had decided to use the IAF in 1962, the fate of the war would have probably been the opposite. Last year, I had the opportunity to interview Wing Commander ‘Jaggi’ Nath, MVC (with bar), who for three years (1960-62) flew over Tibet in top-secret reconnaissance missions; his conclusions were that China had no Air Force on the Tibetan plateau in 1962; India could have won the war. The Wing Commander explained: “If we had sent a few airplanes (into Tibet), we could have wiped the Chinese out and everything could have been different. The Chinese would have never dared do anything down the line.”
It is one of the greatest tragedies of India’s modern history which will surely not be repeated.

A few of my past articles on the subject:

My interview with the French Defence Minister, Mr. Hervé Morin for the Indian Defence Review
For historical, geographical and strategic reasons,  India is a major player in the region. It therefore, unquestionably, has an important role to play in Afghanistan.

My interview with the French Defence Minster Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian in exclusivity in The Pioneer.
Paris is upbeat on the potential that exists to enhance India-France defence cooperation through the 'Make in India' campaign, and on an early resolution of the various defence deals that are there in the pipeline
French Defence Minister JEAN-YVES Le DRIAN’s two-day visit to India was to meet his new Indian counterpart and also give a push to India-France defence collaborations.
He spoke extensively to The Pioneer on the road ahead.

The Rafale Saga

Very few in India know the meaning of the French word ‘Rafale’, which is now associated with the supply of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) to the Indian Air Force (IAF); ‘rafale' means a 'gust of wind'.
When the 'rafales' prevailed in the MMRCA competition, many thought that the Big Deal would soon be signed; three years later, it is still going through tough procedural ‘gusts of wind’. The reasons are not the qualities of the combat aircraft, but other complications.

Can Indian Navy deter China’s Two Silk Roads
My article Can Indian Navy deter China’s Two Silk Roads in NitiCentral.
The 10-day Indo-French naval exercise code-named ‘Varuna’ recently held off the Goa coast did not get much coverage in the Indian media.
The event was important for several reasons which escaped the editors.
First and foremost, it is vital to note that Planet Earth has slowly been changing its axis from a US dominated world to a Chinese-led one.

Advantages of having water-tight friendship

Edit page in The Pioneer
One more article on the Varuna joint naval exercises between India and France.
By initiating the Maritime Silk Road, China hopes to take Asia's leadership. The Indo-French exercise, Varuna, should be seen in this context. It is vital for New Delhi to engage with friendly navies and learn from them

Will the IAF not get its Rafales?
My article Will the IAF not get its Rafales? in
With the Rafale fighter deal stuck over price, can the prime minister step in and find a way out for both countries?
Claude Arpi examines the issue.

My interview with the French Air Chief, General Denis Mercier for the Indian Defence Review
Appointed as the Air Force Chief of Staff (CEMAA) on September 17, 2012, at the age of 53, General Denis Mercier had joined the French Air Force academy in 1979 and qualified as a fighter pilot in 1983. With 182 combat missions and more than 3,000 flying hours (mostly on Mirage F1C and Mirage 2000C) throughout his career, he has acquired extensive experience both as an operational commander and as a fighter pilot.

According to PTI, Jean Yves Le Drian, French Defence Minister will land in Delhi on September 22.
He will be accompanied by the CEOs of Dassault Aviation, Thales and MBDA (and Safran?) to seal the 7.87 billion Euros deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets.
PTI says: “Defence sources said if all goes well, the Inter Governmental Agreement (IGA) will be signed on September 23.”

President Jacques Chirac, the third President of the French Republic, passed away.

He leaves a great vacuum on the French political scene. I posting here a few lines that I wrote several years ago on the Indo-French Strategic Partnership, the first of this kind, initiated by President Chirac and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It remains a model for other partnerships.
Merci President Chirac and Prime Minister Vajpayee for this!

My article India and France: Enduring, reliable partners in The Asian Age and The Deccan Chronicle.
India undoubtedly needs all its energies, resources and friends to fight on these two separate fronts.

My article No Meddling with the Polls in Mail Today
The battle for the deal may be for the next one; a Request for Information (RFI) was issued on January 17, 2018 to procure 57 multi-role combat aircraft for India’s new aircraft carrier: “aircrafts are intended as day-and-night capable, all-weather, multi-role, deck-based combat aircraft which can be used for air defence, air-to-surface operations, buddy refuelling, reconnaissance.”
India is the only country where so many hurdles can be put in defence deals - it took only three months for Egypt to buy 24 Rafales in 2015.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Since when Galwan was Chinese?

Chinese map dated 1893 showing
the Aksai Chin as part of Ladakh
My paper
Since when Galwan was Chinese? is posted on the website of the United Service Institution of India (USI)

Period: July - September 2020

On June 19, 2020, the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian, one of the ‘Wolf-Warrior’ diplomats, asserted that the Galwan Valley is located “on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the west section of the China-India boundary”. He further said that Galwan has always belonged to China. In the same statement, Zhao exonerated the Chinese troops of any blame. All this does not stand serious scrutiny. Constantly repeating a lie, i.e. Galwan and the Aksai Chin areas have been Chinese, and this, since time immemorial, does not make it true.

No Chinese in the area till mid-1950s
The fact is that no Chinese national ever set a foot in the area till the mid-1950s and it is only due to the then Indian government’s weakness and negligence that Mr Zhao is able to make such outrageous claims today. One event is crucial to understand the recent development in Eastern Ladakh (EL); it is the annexation of Eastern Turkestan, now known as Xinjiang, the Western Province, by the Communist forces at the end of 1949. In Mandarin, Xinjiang literally means ‘New Frontier’ or ‘New Territory’, a proof in itself that the area is ‘new’ to the Middle Kingdom.
Some formerly classified documents from the Russian archives about the annexation of Xinjiang, have recently been made public by the History and Public Policy Program at the Wilson Centre in the US; they shed some light on this historical event. Charles Kraus, the program’s Deputy Director wrote: “The Chinese People’s Liberation Army invasion in October 1949 of Xinjiang, the vast ‘province’ bordering the Mongolian People’s Republic and Soviet Central Asia, was a stunning development.”[1] It is worth remembering that Eastern Turkestan, as the area was known at that time, was a more or less independent nation, with a small Nationalist military presence, but under the Soviet Union’s tutelage.

The Soviet Green Light

Anastas Mikoyan, a member of the Soviet Union’s Politburo, was the Soviet leader designated to take contact with the Chinese Communist Party. Mao Zedong arrived in Moscow on January 30, 1949; on the previous day, Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist government had abandoned Nanjing to move to Canton. Mikoyan informed the Politburo that Mao had already proclaimed that Stalin was the supreme leader of world communism and the ‘teacher of the Chinese people’ (Mikoyan also added that Mao did not genuinely believe what he was saying). However, the Soviet leaders knew that the winds had turned in China in favour of the CPC.
On February 4, 1949, Mikoyan met Mao Zedong, who was accompanied by members of the Chinese Communist Party’s Standing Committee of the Politburo, Zhou Enlai, Liu Shaoqi, Marshal Zhu De, and Ren Bishi. Mao had informed the Soviets that he wanted to discuss Xinjiang. The future Great Helmsman started the conversation: “In the Yili district of Xinjiang, which is subordinate to the Urumqi government, there is an independence movement and there is a Communist Party there.” [2] Mikoyan replied that he did not know about the existence of a communist party in the Yili district, but he knew about the national movement of the local nationalities; he interestingly remarked: “This movement was triggered by the incorrect policy of the Chinese government, which does not want to take into account the national specifics of these nationalities, does not present rights of self-rule, does not permit the development of the national culture.”
The Soviet leader added: “If the nationalities of Xinjiang were [not] given autonomy, the soil for the independence movement would likely remain. …We do not stand for the movement of independence of the Xinjiang nationalities and do not have any claims on Xinjiang territory.” These remarks of Mikoyan sound valid even today. Mikoyan later gave Mao the green light he needed to send the PLA in Xinjiang.

The former Indian Consulate General in Kashgar, now a restaurant
The Annexation and Closure of the Kashgar Consulate
On October 1, 1949 Mao Zedong announced from the rostrum of Tiananmen Square in Beijing the birth of the People’s Republic; the Great Helmsman did not waste a day; he immediately moved to annex the territories in the West of the Middle Kingdom. Kraus explained: “Of course, taking hold of the oil and other strategic resources present in Xinjiang motivated Mao.”[3] According to the US scholar, “but no one expected the PLA to move quickly. …Xinjiang was too distant, there was no reliable means of transportation, the weather was turning cold, and troop morale was low.” In less than two months, the PLA annexed Xinjiang (refer to the Map below) and in the same stroke closed down the Indian Consulate General in Kashgar.
India’s observatory post watching Central Asia was no more. Delhi was told that the new regime would have to renegotiate all its former agreements, a position untenable in international law; but in 1953, Nehru announced in the Parliament that India had to close its Consulate in Kashgar because “nothing could be done about it”. The capture of Xinjiang was a great military feat and a master strategic coup; the doors to Northern India were suddenly open to China. By taking over Xinjiang, Mao controlled the Middle Kingdom’s western borders and trade with Central Asia; for the first time, he also came in contact with the Indian frontiers, particularly the Aksai Chin area, which witnesses the present tension.
Kraus concluded: “The invasion was military cunning combined with political skill and, frankly, dumb luck.”[4] Mao’s strategic vision and his ‘dumb luck’ helped to prepare the background for the contemporary events in Galwan, Hot Springs, Depsang or Pangong Tso areas.

The Southern Advance in the 1950s

In 1950, several ominous signs should have forced the Indian government to read beyond the Chinese rhetoric and the Chinese Premier’s assurance of eternal friendship with India. It would not be. What followed was just a logical outcome of Mao’s first move in Xinjiang: Western Tibet was invaded a year later; as the two new provinces of Xinjiang and Tibet needed to be linked, a road across Indian territory in the Aksai Chin was started in 1953-54; Delhi chose to close its eyes.
In a note written in 1963, the Indian government explained: “Territorial claims were put forward for the first time by the Chinese Prime Minister in September 1959, [was] based on a Chinese map published in 1956. In December 1959 [Zhou] affirmed the boundary on this map as the correct boundary claimed by China. …Since then the Chinese claim line has varied according to China’s bargaining convenience and the progressively increasing extent of occupation of Indian territory through force.”[5]
In 1960, Beijing produced another map engulfing large parts of Ladakh; Delhi probably did not realize the implications, thinking that China was still a ‘friend’. The line had moved hundreds of kilometres south from Kashgar and Hotan, which had only been occupied a decade earlier. Then in July 1962, the first clash took place in Galwan; on July 26, South Block wrote to Beijing: “The local Chinese forces have in the last few months established several new posts and resorted to aggressive patrolling in Indian areas, which lie west of even the 1956 Chinese map claim line”. [6]
A few days earlier VK Krishna Menon had meet Chen Yi, the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs in Geneva; the latter assured him that India and China were friends.

A Daring Mission

A few years earlier, in early 1957, the Army selected an officer to go with a patrol and physically confirm the reports that China was building a road in the Aksai Chin area; the officer was Lt Col RS Basera of 1 Kumaon Rifles. Later, in a note, Brig Jasbir Singh, the historian of the regiment wrote: “His mission was to be tough, exciting and most unique, as he had to proceed under cover to the vast plateau of Aksai Chin and confirm reports that the Chinese were constructing a motorable road from Kashgar to Lhasa.” [7]
Disguised as a yak herder, Basera was accompanied by Havildar Diwan Singh from the Corps of Engineers. They were to move with three genuine Ladakhi yak herders. During a briefing at the Headquarters in Leh, Basera was told that it was crucial to maintain utmost secrecy about the mission. The Military Intelligence (MI) instructed them not to carry any documents that could disclose their identities, no notes should be taken. They were asked to memorize the map and the route: “They had to move in the easterly direction from Leh for about 250-300 km, till they reached the expected location of the new Chinese built road, in Aksai Chin. Initially, they would pass over difficult, undulating terrain, till they crossed the Karakoram Mountain Range and Shyok River,” wrote Brig Jasbir Singh. Their mission was of national importance, said their handlers in the MI.
They finally reached the road, saw Chinese truck moving on it and reported to Delhi. But their findings, obtained with such hardship, were dismissed by the Prime Minister and Defence Minister.

Other Cases Showing China’s Recent Presence

The History of the Conflict with China, 1962 published by the Indian Ministry of Defence cited other cases: “In order to ascertain the exact alignment of the road before sending a protest to China, two reconnaissance-cum-survey parties were send out in the summer of 1958; an army party under Lt Iyengar [from the Madras Sappers] towards the north and an Indo-Tibetan Border Police party under Karam Singh, Deputy Superintendent of Police towards the southern extremity of the road.” The Official History says: “The Army party did not return because they had been arrested by the Chinese and were released two months later. From the police party, it was learnt that a part the Tibet-Sinkiang highway was definitely in Indian territory.”[8]
There is no doubt that the Indian government had information about the Chinese presence on Indian territory, as early as the mid-1950s. The greatest tragedy of the inaction then is that India is facing the consequences in Galwan or Hot Springs today.

Col Chhewang Rinchen, MVC** with General AS Vaidya, Chief of Army Staff
The Story of Chhewang Rinchen, MVC**
Another episode is worth recounting. A young Ladakhi, Chhewang Rinchen, who earned his first Maha Vir Chakra (MVC) in 1948 at the age of 17, is also telling about the ‘new’ Chinese presence in the Aksai Chin in the years before the 1962 conflict. In June 1960, Chhewang was transferred from 7 J&K Militia (Ladakhi) to 14 J&K Militia (Ladakhi), a newly raised battalion. On arrival at the Spituk Dak Bungalow in Leh, he was ordered to move with a company to Deskit in the Nubra Sector. He was soon given the responsibility of the construction of an airfield at Thoise; it was the first airstrip to be built in this area and the second in Ladakh, after the Leh airport built in 1948. Chhewang accomplished a feat: on September 26, 1960, the first Dakota could land on the new airfield.
Chhewann Rinchen’s biography reads: “In the beginning of 1961, 14 J&K Militia (Ladakhi) was moved to the north and its Headquarters were established at Partapur. It was feared that the Chinese who had already penetrated along the Chip-Chap river might occupy Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) before the Indians reached there.”[9] The presence of the Chinese troops in this area only dates from that time. Chhewang’s mentor was Major (later Lt Col) Randhawa, who dispatched the young Ladakhi “on recces in uncharted wilderness of the Depsang Plains and desolate heights beyond.” Incidentally, Randhawa himself was awarded an MVC for his achievements in Ladakh during the years 1960 to 1962.
Chhewang’s biography states: “In August 1961, in pursuance of the Forward Policy, Rinchen was ordered to recce the area in the extreme north and establish a post at DBO, very close to the Karakoram.” Located 16 kms south of the Karakoram Pass, DBO lies “at an altitude of approx. 5,000 metres. From Leh it is approximately 120 km on the SilkTtrade Route between Leh and Yarkand.” At that time, there were two routes from Leh to DBO; one via the Shyok river which was the winter route and the other one across the perilous Saser La (pass), the summer route; both routes converged at Murgo.
It is interesting that early June 2020, the Hindustan Times reported: “India is working on two key roads near the China border in eastern Ladakh — the site of a tense weeks-long border stand-off with its northern neighbour — to provide connectivity to an important forward area that the military calls Sub-Sector North (SSN). While the first is the strategic Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldi (DS-DBO) road that provides connectivity to the country’s northern-most outpost, DBO; the second road being built from Sasoma to Saser La could eventually provide an alternative route to DBO near the Karakoram Pass. The Sasoma-Saser La road axis is south-west of DBO.”[10]
To come back to Chhewang Rinchen, he recounted that the entire area between Murgo, known as ‘Gateway to Hell’ and DBO was notorious for treacherous weather and snow blizzards. He wrote that September 3, 1961 became a memorable date in his career, while proceeding with a patrol party, along the ‘Chip Chap’ river, he noted “the hoof marks of camels and horses and, a little further, tyre marks of a three-ton vehicle. It clearly indicated the possible presence of the Chinese in that area.”
According to his biography: “Along with three jawans, Rinchen proceeded to locate the Chinese post, leaving his ponies and administrative tail behind. The party had to pass through difficult terrain, at times crawling for a few km to reach close to the Chinese water point. Beyond that point, he climbed a small plateau to have a better view of the enemy with his binoculars. Hardly 500 metres away Rinchen could see that the Chinese had established their headquarters in a double-storeyed fort, having two doors and many loopholes. About 300 Chinese were busy making bricks and loading and unloading three three-tonners.” The Chinese had just arrived in the area, one of the sites of the present clash; this was in 1961, far from the time immemorial repeatedly mentioned by the Chinese propaganda.

One can only conclude that soon after the annexation of Xinjiang, which was the turning point for the fate of the entire region, the Chinese decided to move South and annex further territory which had for centuries belonged to the Kingdom of Ladakh and therefore, to India. Beijing’s propaganda cannot bluff any informed reader.

End Notes
[1] How Stalin Elevated the Chinese Communist Party to Power in Xinjiang in 1949; see
[2] “Memorandum of Conversation between Anastas Mikoyan and Mao Zedong,” February 04, 1949, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, APRF: F. 39, Op. 1, D. 39, Ll. 54-62. Reprinted in Andrei Ledovskii, Raisa Mirovitskaia and Vladimir Miasnikov, Sovetsko-Kitaiskie Otnosheniia, Vol. 5, Book 2, 1946-February 1950 (Moscow: Pamiatniki Istoricheskoi Mysli, 2005), pp. 66-72. Translated by Sergey Radchenko.
[3] Kraus, op. cit.
[4] Kraus, op.cit.
 [5] The Chinese Aggression in Maps, Publication Division, 1963; see:
[6] Notes, Memoranda and letters Exchanged and Agreements signed between The Governments of India and China; White Paper VI, (December 1961 – July 1962). See:[-0
[7] Account of Lt Col RS Basera is available in the USI Archives.
Brig Jasbir Singh, SM, 1 Kumaon Regiment, who commanded the same battalion than Lt Col SR Basera, wrote down the account of the recce.
 [8] Ministry of Defence, Government of India, Official History of the 1962 India China War , Chapter 2; see:
[9] Virendra Verma, A Legend in His Own Time, Chewang Rinchen: Memoirs (Young India Publications, 1998).
[10] The Hindustan Times, India working on two roads in Ladakh amid border row; see:

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Between Boldness and Cautiousness

UN Session on the Question of Tibet, 1965
External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar yesterday stated that “If India has to grow, it has to shed its traditional caution, step out more, be more confident and articulate its interests.”
That sounds good.
The former diplomat, now minister added: “If we are to grow by leveraging the international situation, we have to exploit the opportunities out there. Can’t do that by saying, ‘I’m going to stay away from it all, and when I find it convenient I will step out’. Either you’re in the game or you’re not in the game. The era of great caution and greater dependence on multilateralism, is behind us. We have to step out more. We have to be more confident, we have to articulate our interests better. We need to take risks. Without taking risks, you can’t get ahead. Those are choices we have to make.”
Let us hope that his government will make the right decision.

The Vijay Gokhale Directive
We still remember that on February 22, 2018, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, a former Indian ambassador to Beijing, requested PK Sinha, the Cabinet Secretary  to issue a “classified circular advisory advising all Ministries/Departments of Government of India as well as State Governments not to accept any invitation or to participate in the proposed commemorative events [of the 60th anniversary of the Dalai Lama's arrival in India].”
Addressed to the secretaries and heads of government departments,the directive banned the participation of government servants in the events to mark the start of 60 years in exile of the Dalai Lama; "it should be discouraged", said the note and “accordingly, you are requested to ensure appropriate action in the matter”.
The Indian Express then wrote: “In an unusual departure from its stand on the Tibetans-in-exile, the government, underlining that this is a ‘very sensitive time’ for bilateral relations with China, has sent out a note asking ‘senior leaders’ and ‘government functionaries’ of the Centre and states to stay away from events planned for March-end and early April by the ‘Tibetan leadership in India’ to mark the start of 60 years in exile of the Dalai Lama.”
Sinha quoted Gokhale’s note to underline “the sensitive nature of the subject.”
That was cautiousness at the extreme.
Retrospectively, did this help India …or China?
In my opinion, it emboldened China a great deal.
That is why is good that Dr Jaishankar speaks now of shedding its traditional caution.

Bolder Times
This reminds me another era, other times, when India was still bold.
The Prime Minister might have been short, but he was a Tall Leader.
Just read the statement of Rafiq Zakaria, the Indian Permanent Representative at the UN General Assembly in New York during a debate on the ‘Question of Tibet’ in 1965, you will understand.
That was bold and to the point; defending India's interests as well as supporting Tibet.
Eventually, the UN General Assembly passed a Resolution in favour of Tibet; what was interesting was that while during the previous sessions in 1959 and 1961, India had abstained from voting, in 1965, India voted in favour of the Resolution.
The full text of the Indian Representative is given below.

Tibetan delegates in 1965
(Rinchen Sadhuthsang, Tsepon Shakabpa, Gyalo Thodup)
Statement by Shri Rajiq Zakaria (India):
As representatives are aware, for the past fifteen years the question of Tibet has been from time to time under the consideration of the United Nations.
It was first raised here in 1950 at the Fifth Session of the General Assembly but it could not be placed on the agenda.
In fact, my country opposed its inclusion at that time because we were assured by China that it was anxious to settle the problem by peaceful means. However, instead of improving, the situation in Tibet began to worsen, and since then the question has come up several times before the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Our delegations participated in the discussion at the Fourteenth Session in 1959 and although we abstained from voting, we made it clear that because of our close historical, cultural and religious ties with the Tibetans, we could not but be deeply moved and affected by what was happening in that region.
We hoped against hope that wiser counsel would prevail among the Chinese and that there would be an end to the sufferings of the people of Tibet.
However, the passage of time has completely belied our hopes. As the day pass, the situation becomes worse and cries out for the attention of all mankind. As we know, ever since Tibet came under the stranglehold of China, the Tibetans have been subjected to a continuous and increasing ruthlessness which has few parallel in the annals of the world. In the name of introducing 'democratic reforms’ and fighting a ‘counter-revolution’, the Chinese have indulged in the worst kind genocide and the suppression of a minority race.
To begin with, we in India were hopeful that, as contacts between the Chinese and the Tibetans under the changed set-up became closer and more intimate, more harmonious relationship would emerge. In fact, in 1956, as a result of the long talks with Mr. Chou En-lai the Chinese Premier, my late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru felt confident that a mutually agreeable adjustment between the two peoples would be established.
Even the Dalai Lama expressed a similar hope to our late Prime Minister, but, as subsequent events have proved, the Chinese never believed in living up to their assurances. They promised autonomy to Tibet and the safeguarding of its culture and religious heritage and traditions but, as the International Commission of Jurists its June 1959 report on Tibet has emphasised they attempted on the contrary:
To destroy the national, ethnical, racial and religious group of Tibetans as such by killing members of the group and by causing serious bodily and mental harm to members of the group.
The world is aware that it was in protest against and enslavement of Tibet that the Dalai Lama, who is held in the highest esteem by all Tibetans and, indeed, respected as a spiritual leader by all Indians - fled From Lhasa and took asylum in India. Today there are thousands of Tibetan refugees in my country; approximately 50,000 who have left their hearth and homes and fled from their country to loin their leader and seek refuge in India. The flight of these refugees still continues, far the Chinese have transformed Tibet into a vast military camp, where the indigenous Tibetans are made to live like hewers of wood and drawers of water.
Although the relationship between Tibet and India is centuries old and has flourished all through the ages in all its manifestations, whether religious, cultural or economic, we have always token care not to make that relationship a political problem. In recent years, despite the fact the Dalai Lama and thousands of his Tibetan followers have come to our land, and despite the fact that China has turned Tibet itself into a base of aggression against our northern borders, we have not exploited the situation.
Undoubtedly, our notional sentiments are now and again aroused as a result of the atrocities and cruelties committed by the Chinese against Tibetans, but we have exercised the greatest caution, for we believe that what should concern all of us is the much larger human problem, namely the plight of these good and innocent people who are victimised merely because they are different, ethnically and culturally, from the Chinese.
Here I feel that it would not be out of place to put before this august Assembly the following facts which stand out stubbornly and irrefutably in connection with Chinese policy in Tibet.
  1. The autonomy guaranteed in Sino-Tibetan Agreement of 1951 has from the beginning remained a dead letter.
  2. Through increasing application of military force, the Chinese have in fact obliterated the autonomous character of Tibet.
  3. There has been arbitrary confiscation of properties belonging to monasteries and individuals and Tibetan Government institutions.
  4. Freedom of religion is denied to the Tibetans, and Buddhism is being suppressed together with the system of priests, monasteries, shrines and monuments.
  5. The Tibetans are allowed no freedom of information or expression.
  6. There has also been carried out a systematic policy of killing, imprisonment and deportation of those Tibetans who have been active in their opposition to Chinese rule.
  7. The Chinese have forcibly transferred large numbers of Tibetan children in China in order to denationalise them, to indoctrinate them in Chinese ideology and to make them forget their own Tibetan religion, culture and way of life, and
  8. There has also been a large-scale attempt to bring Han Chinese into Tibet, and thereby make Tibet Chinese and overwhelm the indigenous people with a more numerous Chinese population.
These atrocities, carried out ruthlessly with utter disregard for Tibetan sentiments and aspirations, and in complete violation of universally recognised human rights, and up to a frightful programmed of the suppression of a whole people. It surpasses anything that colonialists have done in the past to the peoples whom they ruled as slaves. That is why the United Nations General Assembly took note of the situation in Tibet and passed two resolutions, one in 1959 and the other in 1961, deploring the denial of these human rights to the people of Tibet by the Chinese Government and appearing to it to restore these rights to the Tibetan people. But all such pleas have fallen on deaf ears, is this situation not a challenge to human conscience?
Can we, dedicated as we are here to the Charter of the United Nations, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, remain mute spectators to the ghostly tragedy that is being enacted by a ruthless and oppressive regime in Tibet?
In a recent appeal to the Secretary General of the United Nations and to the Member States, which is contained in Document A/608 1, the Dalai Lama, who has been a model of restraint, serenity and, indeed, of humanity, has warned the Organisation that the Chinese's, if unchecked would resort to still more brutal means of exterminating the Tibetan race. There is no limit to the hardships that the Tibetan people are suffering. Even their supply of food is restricted and controlled by the Chinese who first feed their military forces in Tibet, and then whatever remains is given to the ingenious Tibetans. My delegation naturally feels concerned about the terrible deterioration of the situation in Tibet.
On December 17, 1964, for instance, the Dalai Lama was formally deprived of his position as Chairman of the Preparatory Committee for the Autonomous Region of Tibet and denounced as 'an incorrigible running dog of imperialism and foreign reactionaries’, this was immediately followed by the disposition an December 30, 1964 of the Panchen Lama, whom the Chinese tried assiduously to take under their wing, and by his condemnation as a leader of the clique of reactionary serf owner.
Thus the Chinese have severed the remaining political links between Tibet and its two politico-religious structures, and have given a final blow to what they fondly used to call, in the past ‘The Special status of Tibet’.
Moreover, the campaign to dispossess Tibetan peasants of their land and to distribute their properties is also being accelerated with the definition of what precisely constitutes Feudal elements being expanded, from time to time to cover a wider and wider range of peasants. In fact, those so-called land reforms are being used by the Chinese Government to advance its own political purpose and to turn the Tibetan peasants into slaves of its system. The naked truth - which all of us must face - is that the Chinese Government is determined to obliterate the Tibetan people, but surely no people can remain for long suppressed. I have faith in the world community. I believe it will be able to help restore to the Tibetans all the freedom which we hove enshrined, with such dedication, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
For our part, we assure the United Nation that - as in the past - we shall continue to give all facilities to the Tibetan refugees, and do our best to alleviate their sufferings and hardships, the Dalai Lama has been living in India for some years now, and is carrying on his religious humanitarian activities without any restriction from us. We shall continue to give the Dalai Lama and his simple and peace loving people these facilities and all our hospitality.
It is for these reasons that we support, fully and wholeheartedly, the cause of the people of Tibet. Our hearts go out to them in their miserable plight and in terrible suppression that they are suffering at the hands of the Government of the People's Republic of China. Although that regime has given us, and continues to give us, provocation, we have refused to use the Tibetan refugees as pawns in our conflict with China. We do not believe that the sufferings of one people should be made a weapon in the armoury of another. 'In the end, may I express the fervent an behalf of the United Nations that there would soon be an end to the reign of misery and oppression in Tibet and that the people of Tibet will be able to shore with us all those human rights that all of us, in different lands are so fortunate to possess and enjoy.

My delegation will, therefore, vote in favour of the draft resolution contained in Document A/L.473, and I commend the same to this august Assembly.

Monday, July 20, 2020

1962 War: 'Secret Reports' lost forever?

Top Secret and Lost
My article
1962 War: 'Secret Reports' lost forever? appeared in

'The Himmatsinghji Report is still 'missing'.'
'It is a great loss for the knowledge of India's borders.'
'It would have an immense value at a time China is bound to shift its attention to other border fronts in the Himalayas,' notes Claude Arpi.

It was recently reported that 144 veterans of the Indian armed forces had signed a joint statement on the situation at the border, pointing to the failure of the 'political, civil and military establishments' which lead to the loss of 20 soldiers' lives in the Galwan Valley.
Without going into the necessity of such statement at a time when the nation should, in a unified manner, face the onslaught of the Chinese expansionism, I would like to discuss one of the veterans' requests.
Point 7 says: 'We also strongly urge that the un-redacted Henderson Brooks-Bhagat Report concerning the 1962 War against China be released into the public domain, so that the military-bureaucratic-political system and the public can learn from the mistakes of the past. There can be no sensible reason for this Report remaining secret even after 57 years.'
It is true that report prepared by Lieutenant General Henderson-Brooks and Brigadier Prem Bhagat mentioned some of the reasons for the defeat of the Indian army in 1962.
Discussed in Parliament in 1963, the report has since then been unnecessarily kept under wraps, though there is no doubt that it is not the government which opposed its release, but some officers at army headquaters.
In 2012, Sandeep Unnithan wrote in India Today: 'Officials who have read it say this is because the report squarely indicts senior army generals for the country's worst-ever military defeat...'
'The crux of the report in a 40-page summary by General Chaudhary (General J N Chaudhary, the army chief appointed after the war) says the army gave a better account of itself in the Ladakh sector by resisting the Chinese advance, because of better leadership.'
According to the same source, the three main findings of the report were the failure of the army's higher command, the organisation of the army and finally the appointment of 'the glib but militarily unsound corps commander Lt Gen Brij Mohan Kaul.'
Only two copies of the report are said to exist: One is with the defence secretary; the other deep in a vault at the directorate general of military operations.
If the Henderson-Brooks-Bhagat report is the symbol of the over-zealous attitude of those in power, it is not the only 'secret report' to remain in the drawers of the ministries of defence or external affairs.

The Himmatsinghji Report
Perhaps more crucial in the present tense days is the Himmatsinghji Committee Report of 1951.
This committee, known as the North and North East Border Defence Committee, sent its findings in two parts.
The first interesting aspect of the committee was that all the branches of the Indian State dealing with the borders were represented.
Besides Major General Himmatsinghji, Deputy Minister of Defence (Chairman), it included Lieutenant General Kulwant Singh, K Zakaria, head of the ministry of external affairs's historical division, S N Haksar, joint secretary, MEA, Group Captain M S Chaturvedi from the Indian Air Force and Waryam Singh, deputy director of the Intelligence Bureau.
B N Mullik, the intelligence chief, wrote in his China's Betrayal: My Years with Nehru that the decision to form a committee followed a note 'New Problems of Internal Security' sent by the Intelligence Bureau as well as Sardar Patel's letter, which 'were considered by all the ministries concerned within the next seven days.'
Mullik's words often need to be taken with a pinch of salt, having the habit to justify his own wrong decisions. In this case, however, there is no reason to doubt that Sardar Patel initiated the process before passing away on December 15, 1950.
The first part of the main Report consisted of recommendations regarding Sikkim, Bhutan, NEFA and the Eastern frontier bordering Burma; it was submitted in April, 1951.
The second part contained the recommendations on Ladakh and the frontier regions of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Nepal; it was submitted in September, 1951.
Mullik wrote: 'The Himmatsinghji Committee also had before it the recommendations which had been made by a smaller Committee formed in Assam to assess the dangers in NFFA and suggest the possibility of pushing the Assam Rifles Posts as far towards the frontier as possible.'
According to Mullik, it was decided that 'a small committee of military experts with a representative of the IB in Shillong would visit the NEFA agencies and propose the places near the frontier at which the Assam Rifles units should be posted.'

It is probably this 'smaller' Committee which decided to occupy Tawang.

The Himmatsinghji Committee further recommended an important increase in the Assam Rifles and the Civil Armed Police 'in larger concentration at strategic points from which effective patrolling could be regularly undertaken.'
The Committee also suggested the construction of new roads and the improvement of existing ones to link the Assam Rifles posts with headquarters, something which took 65 years to start.
The state governments were to extend modern administration right up to the frontier and this without interfering with the customs and the ways of life of the tribal people.
Now, where are these reports, which included findings on the trijunction between India, Tibet and Nepal, near Kalapani, which was recently in the news or the territory north of Harsil in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, today disputed by China?
In November 2011, one Anil Mukherjee applied under the Right to Information Act to get a copy of the Report of the Himmatsinghji Committee as well five other reports.
In its order, the Central Information Commission recorded that appearing on behalf of the ministry of defence, P K Gupta (Director, Vigilance) made the submission that most of these reports were not traceable.
'It is, thus, clear that the reports mentioned at Serial Nos 01 to 04 and 06 (The Himmatsinghji Committee report was No 1) of the RTI application are not available with the MoD and the question of supplying them to the appellant does not arise.'
Practically, it meant that the Himmatsinghji Committee Report is lost forever.
For the CIC, the conclusion was: 'The MoD has not denied existence of these Reports; it has simply indicated their non-availability. Needless to say, the Reports deal with sensitive national security related issues and their 'non-availability' in the MoD is a serious matter.'

'In the premises, it is ordered that a copy of this order be sent to the defence secretary for information and appropriate action at his end.'
As usual, the defence ministry's babus did not do anything.

The takeover of Tawang
It is in all-probability the first Committee, based in its findings, who ordered the takeover of Tawang.
At the end of 1950, the entire area down to Dirang Dzong (South of the Sela Pass) was still under some vague Tibetan administration, with the Tibetan Dzongpon of Tsona in Tibet, collecting 'monastic' taxes from time to time in and around Tawang.
It is there that then Assam governor Jairamdas Daulatram and Major Bob Khathing entered the scene.
Summoned by Daulatram, Khathing was asked, 'Do you know Tawang?' He was then given a 'secret' file to study and told to 'go and bring Tawang under Indian administration.'
On January 17, 1951, Khathing, accompanied by Captain Hem Bahadur Limbu of the 5th Assam Rifles and 200 men, left Lokra, the Assam Rifles headquarters, for the foothills and Tawang, which they reached on February 9, 1951. The rest is history.
It appears that Sardar Patel and Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai, the MEA's secretary-general, decided the operation on their own and ordered Jairamdas Daulatram accordingly.
One can imagine what would have happened if Khathing had not 'liberated' Tawang and the areas around it in time.
On February 9, Nehru wrote to the foreign secretary: 'The Committee appointed recently to tour the North East Frontier etc, has taken some action which I consider of doubtful value.'
It was about Bhutan, he also commented on the takeover: 'Tawang has now been occupied. Probably the step taken was justified. But it was an important step and I should have been consulted about it. The instructions issued to the Officer Commanding (Major Khathing) should also have been placed before me before issue.'
'This is a frontier matter involving possibly some complications and no step should be taken without full consultation.'
Retrospectively, it was perhaps a grace that the prime minister was not consulted.

Today, the Himmatsinghji Report is still 'missing'. It is a great loss for the knowledge of India's borders. It would have an immense value at a time China is bound to shift its attention to other border fronts in the Himalayas.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Xi and the Poor Art of War

Every expert worth his name in a TV studio or on the innumerable webinars will explain to you about the Art of War, an ancient Chinese military treatise written by Sun Tzu, a Chinese general and military strategist in the 5th century BC. The treatise teaches you all aspects of warfare and particularly how to win a War without fighting it.
Mao Zedong himself is said to have drawn his inspiration from the treatise.
Today, it looks as if President Xi Jinping has not read the book properly.
It is not that the new Great Helmsman has not received a military training. From 1979 to 1982, Xi served as secretary for his father's second-in-command, General Geng Biao, then secretary general of the Central Military Commission (CMC); however, the present CMC Chairman should have learned better how to deal with his ‘enemies’.
When one looks at the last few months of Xi’s leadership, one can seriously doubt that his tactics will lead China to victories ‘without fighting’ and this, for the simple reason that he taken too many enemies in one go.
His predecessor Deng Xiaoping thought the best way for China to rise was: “Hide your strength, bide your time, never take the lead;” but Xi decided to pick quarrels with most nations on the planet at the same time (of course with the exception of the all-weather friend Pakistan, and Nepal who is presently under the charm of a beautiful lady-ambassador).
This was not mentioned in the Art of War.
Whether it is the United States, Japan, Australia, Canada, Vietnam, Philippines, European Union, etc, the list is long. This is without counting Hong Kong, Taiwan, or the ‘autonomous regions’ of Tibet and Xinjiang.
Since early May, India has been added; Xi has decided to fight a war in the High Himalaya. And what is the purpose of this new belligerence?
Only a couple of ‘fingers’ or a few hundred meters in the most inhospitable terrain? And is it really smart to start this at the time of the pandemic? Did Sun Tzu ever teach this? Not to my knowledge.
What will Xi win? It appears a lose-lose venture for him.
Realizing this, Xi’s clever Special Representative (SR), Wang Yi, also Minister of Foreign Affairs had a long talk on the phone with Ajit Doval, his Indian counterpart and National Security Advisor.
A communiqué of the Ministry of External Affairs stated: “The two Special Representatives had a frank and in-depth exchange of views on the recent developments in the Western Sector of the India-China border areas.”
The two SRs agreed that maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas was essential and “[the] two sides should not allow differences to become disputes.” But it is Xi who created the differences.
The SRs spoke of the necessity to ensure “at the earliest complete disengagement of the troops along the LAC and de-escalation from India-China border areas.”
As usual, the Chinese statement was different from the one issued in Delhi; it should allow Beijing to play with words in the future.
Ambitious generals in Chengdu’s Western Theater Commands sold the idea to Xi to teach a lesson to the Indians and to place the PLA troops on the LAC in far better position to destroy, if necessary, the new infrastructure built by India in East Ladakh; Gen Zhao Zongqi thought that it would be easy if he took the Indians by surprise.
Unfortunately, the 14 Corps based in Leh reacted faster than expected by Gen Zhao and thereafter nothing went according to plan, particularly on June 15 (on Emperor Xi’s birth anniversary) when between 45 and 60 Chinese soldiers lost their lives in a deadly clash with Indian troops in the Galwan Valley. Of course, the totalitarian Middle Kingdom is equipped to hide the truth from their masses, while repeating that only India lost many of its jawans.
But for how long can the Chinese State keep this secret in an era when social media pervades all aspects of life?
Presently, Beijing is still controlling the information.
On July 6, on a TV program, two panelists Ruan Zongze, deputy head of China Institute of International Studies and Su Xiaohui, Special Correspondent of CNTV, discussed the recently-held third round of military talks in Chushul.
The panelists argued that Chinas’ sovereignty of Galwan valley is a fact and the Indian troops illegally crossed into the Chinese territory and violated the international laws.
The ‘experts’ further argued that the Galwan valley was earlier not disputed till India illegally moved into the area; the Chinese viewers were told blatant lies that India had built a helipad, temporary bridges, erected tents and piled up stone structures on the site.
Three years after the Doklam standoff, the Indian troops crossed again the line and started provocation against China, said the speakers, adding that China and India are important neighbours and maintaining peace at the border is in the interest of both the sides. They further complained that on July 3, Prime Minister Narendra Modi suddenly visited the Sino-Indian border and mentioned the dispute with its neighbor (China). His visit was of no use, they concluded; it was an isolated act of provocation by India: India urgently purchased military equipments, held military drill with Japan and India banned 59 Chinese apps.
How long can the Chinese government bluff its own public and change into black what is clearly white?
The point remains that the top-most Chinese leadership knows that Xi Jinping has taken a too-big bite and that he does have the capacity to digest it.
That was not a smart move, would have thought Sun Tzu; in the meantime the present leadership has started questioning the People’s Leader, especially at a time when the pandemic is not yet over.
The ‘disengagement’ may give some breathing space to Xi and help him to temporarily save face; all the more reason for India to keep awake and not be fooled by the Chinese propaganda.
One should not forget that at the end of the month or early next month, the yearly secret CCP’s conclave will be held in the seaside resort of Beidaihe; it will provide a space to the party elders to review Xi's leadership.
This year, the agenda will be tough for Xi; on the top of the usual issues, he will have to answer about the catastrophic economic situation …and an unnecessary war with India, for three fingers more.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Tibetan Faces in the PLA

This post is a continuation of previous ones on the presence of the Tibetans in the PLA.
According to The Tibet Daily, the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) Research Group recently investigated the possibility of new recruitment of troops for the TAR.
On May 30, Zhang Yongze, a member of the TAR Standing Committee discussed the issue with Maj Gen Ngawang Sonam and Maj Gen Zhao Zhigang, both serving in the Tibet Military District (or Command; known as TMD).
On May 29, China Tibetan Network News announced that the TAR Research Group conducted field investigations for the recruitment of military personnel and “set forth requirements for doing a good job in publicizing and interpreting the military recruitment policies and promoting the recruitment of young people of the right age.”
It is clearly for the recruitment of Tibetan soldiers.
Zhang Yongze is TAR’s deputy chairman is the leader of the TAR’s Recruitment Leadership Group; Maj Gen Ngawang Sonam (a Tibetan), the TMD’s deputy commander is the executive deputy leader of the TAR's Recruitment Leadership Group while his deputy is the deputy director of Political Work Department, in other words, deputy Political Commissar of the TMD.
We learn that the idea is to provide a 'one-stop window' into the entry into the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) by providing all facilities for military service registration, application for enrolment and policy consultation.
This should be possible at any time, believes the Recruitment Leadership Group.
The policy wants to integrate industry resources; information should flow so that candidates have the less possible running to do: “The research team emphasized that the conscription work is related to national defense and the building of the Army; it is also related to the overall work of the Communist Party and the Chinese State. Workers at all levels must strengthen their political positions, improve their political  views, unify their thinking and understanding, enhance their professional skills, form a joint force of work, and promote the orderly development of recruitment work.”
The article continues, asserting that the policy should carefully summarize the experience of recruitment with the practice, interpret the various recruitment policies as well as preferential treatment for placement, so that young people of the appropriate age can be recruited.
All efforts should be made “to earnestly carry out the publicity (propaganda) work, [recruiters] should solidly achieve their work at the grassroots level, and truly become a household name and a person everyone knows to create a good atmosphere for the whole society to actively join the PLA.”Besides the Communist jargon, it is clear that Beijing has decided to recruit more Tibetans in the PLA.

Recruitment tests in Lhasa
An On-Going Process
Already a year ago, on July 24, 2019, a national teleconference was held in Beijing for military recruitment. Participated:
•    Norbu Thondup, TAR Party Standing Committee member, Executive Deputy Chairman of the TAR and leader of the TAR Recruitment Leadership Team (Norbu is also Alternate Member of the Central Committee of the CCP).
•    Maj Gen Thubten Thinley, Deputy Commander of the TMD, Executive Deputy Leader of the TAR Recruitment Leadership Team.
•    Senior Colonel Ngawang Dorjee, TMD's Deputy Chief of Staff, Leader of the TAR Recruitment Group as deputy leader. Ngawang is also deputy director of the TMD's Political Work Department (deputy Political Commissar).  Today Ngawang Dorjee has apparently been promoted Maj Gen.
They attended the meeting on behalf of the Tibet branch.
Similar issues were discussed with the National Defense Mobilization Department of the Central Military Commission (CMC).

We are listing here some of the Tibetans who are involved in the PLA, either at the ‘ceremonial’ level, being sort Model Soldiers shown around, particularly in Beijing, but also some senior officers who are in a different category all together.
The only similarity is that they both good Communist, a prerequisite to join the PLA.

Maj Gen Ngawang Sonam
Major General Ngawang Sonam
One of two senior most Tibetan in the PLA is Ngawang Sonam; he is presently Deputy Commander of  TMD under the command of the WTC and the PLA Ground Force (PLAGF).
Ngawang Sonam is born in Qinghai Yushu (Jyekundo) in 1962.
He decided to follow the footsteps of his elder brother and join the army.
Many Tibetans like Ngawang Sonam has a pastoral background; most of them did not even know how to use chopsticks, explained a Chinese publication; they learned the ‘skill’ in the PLA: “We were also taught Chinese, we learned to write Chinese characters, as Chinese soldiers did know how speak the minority language (Tibetan),” Sonam recalled, adding: “By the time the [Tibetan] soldiers are demobilized, they are usually proficient in Chinese and can read the local language as well.”
He graduated from PLA Artillery Command College, located in Xuanhua District of Zhangjiakou Prefecture, Hebei Province.
He was a member of 12th National People’s Congress (NPC); he then led the PLA delegation from the TMD.
He also served as Deputy Chief of Staff of Qinghai Military Region.
Since 2019, he is the TMD’s deputy commander.
He was promoted to rank of Major General in July 2013.
A Chinese publication noted: “These [officers] bring pride to the rugged western China [Tibet and Xinjiang], they are absolutely honest and have defended the country's frontiers with their blood; they feel for the people from their heart.”
The publication added: “Minority officers, who represent the people in ethnic minority areas in the country's highest political authority [the NPC] are dedicated to a strong army and China’s steadfast dream.”

Maj Gen Thubten Thinley
Major General Thubten Thinley
Thubten Thinley is born in December 1961 in Lhasa. He graduated from the Central Party School and started working in September 1984 and joined the Communist Party of China in July 1987.
He served in the TMD’s Political Department and Logistics Department for a long time, and briefly served as the deputy director in the former General Political Department in Beijing.
After returning to the TMD, Thubten Thinley he became a member of the Standing Committee of the Lhasa Municipal Committee and a political member of the Lhasa Security District.
In 2013, he was appointed deputy Political Commissar (PC) of the TMD.
In 2016, Thubten Thinley was appointed as TMD’s deputy commander. It was a promotion soon after the TMD was upgraded following the reforms introduced by CMC’s Chairman, Xi Jinping.
On July 25, 2016, Thubten Thinley’s name first appeared in a report on Tibet Satellite TV; it reported a video call for military recruitment held in Lhasa: “The conference summarized Tibet’s 2015 military recruitment and arranged for the deployment of the 2016 military recruitment task. Deng Xiaogang, Deputy Secretary of the TAR Party Committee, Executive Deputy Chairman of the TAR, Secretary of the Political and Legal Committee of the TAR Party Committee, and Leader of the TAR Recruitment Leading Group, attended the meeting and delivered a speech.”
Thubten Thinley was announced as deputy commander of the upgraded TMD; the TV footage showed Maj Gen Thubten Thinley wearing the military-grade badge (one Star) while attending the event.
As a result of the military reforms, the TMD was upgraded to the rank of deputy military command and placed under the leadership of the PLA Army “which opened a new journey for the TMD’s construction and development,” said the China’s Daily.
Zhao Zhong, deputy director of the TMD’s Political Work Department then observed: “The upgrade is not only an upgrade of the army's specifications, but also an expansion of the functional mission. It is necessary to upgrade the overall position and strengthen the responsibility of the TMD. …After being upgraded, the leadership was accordingly adjusted.”
Maj Gen Li Wenping, for example was reappointed as director of the TMD Political Department (Political Commissar), while Col Zhao Zhong and Zhou Shenggang, who previously served in the former Chengdu Military Region, became deputy PC.
A former deputy TMD’s commander, Maj Gen Dang Encheng became deputy chief of staff of the upgraded military region while former deputy TMD deputy PC Zhang Wenlong was nominated minister of the Logistics Department of the upgraded military region.

Major General Liu Geping
Major General Liu Geping
Gen Liu is today commander of Qinghai Military Region. He is half Tibetan from his mother.
He served for many years in the Ngari Military Sub-Division of the Southern Xinjiang Militray District as well as a  member of the Ngari District Committee.
He often met his Indian counterparts during the Border Personnel Meetings (BPM) in Ladakh.
On July 31, 2017, he was promoted to the rank of major general.
On September 6, 2017, he was elected as the representative of the 19th National Congress of the Party as a PLA delegate.
After serving as commander (minister of Military Affairs) of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, which had the responsibility to recruit, train, deploy and manage of all militia units in Xinjiang …and guard the Uighur reform camps, he was transferred back to the TMD.
In May 2020, Liu was appointed Commander of the Qinghai Military Region.

Major General Olo Bhuchung
Major General Olo Bhuchung (Oloban)
Gen Bhuchung is born in 1959 in Nyêmo near Lhasa. He was enlisted in December 1975 as a member of the CCP and graduated from the Armed Police Academy in 1985.
He is the former deputy director of the Ministry of Public Security Frontier Administration.
He has been described by the China Police Network as “a general who walked out of a serf family.”
Here are some of his appointments:
•    Deputy Director of the New Frontier Police Station in Nyalam (near the Nepal border).
•    In August 2007, he served as the head of the TAR Public Security Frontier Corps.
•    In July 2011, he became PC and secretary of the Party Committee of the TAR Public Security Frontier Corps.
•    In August 2013, he served as deputy military researcher of the Frontier Defense Administration of the Ministry of Public Security.
•    In November 2013, he became Deputy Director of the Ministry of Public Security Frontier Defense Administration.
He was promoted to the rank of major general of the Armed Police in July 2008.
On January 5, 2018, a Chinese website announced: “the Ministry of Public Security's Border Protection Administration organized a meeting to announce the order of cadres. At the meeting, the order of the resignation of the deputy director of the Ministry of Public Security's Border Protection Administration, Olo Bhuchung was read out.”
He has therefore retired (or he was ‘retired’).

Major General Khyung Se
Major General Khyung Se
Kyung Se is presently Political Commissar of the TAR Region Public Security Fire Brigade.
Kyung Se is born in 1961 as the son of an ordinary farmer and herdsman in the Chamdo region. There were eight children in the family; Khyung Se was the second child.
In 1971, the 10-year-old Khyung Se began to study in a rural private school and later entered a county public school to study Tibetan and mathematics.
An article consecrated to him explains: “In May 1975, as the ‘Cultural Revolution’ was nearing its end. Tibet was still in a period of rectification and restoration, and the Tibet Public Prosecution and Law Department was also under restoration. At that time, there was a shortage of Tibetan ethnic cadres. At the request of the TAR government, the Ministry of Public Security agreed to resume the opening of Tibetan classes at the Central Political and Law Cadre School.” The 13-year-old Khyung Se was selected among 300 children and sent to study in Beijing.
He returned to Tibet in July 1978 and began working in the Political Department of the Tibet Public Security Department. 
In 1981, Khyung Se once again embarked on the road of education, entered the Central People's Police Cadre Academy (this school was later divided into three: Shenyang Criminal Police College, Xi'an Armed Police Technical College, Langfang Armed Police Academy) where he studied Fire Protection in industrial enterprises.
From 2001 to 2002, Qiong Se went to the training department of the Central Party School to study and completed his under-graduation and post-graduation.
Again in 2007, the Ministry of Public Security invited him for a half-year study and training at the National Defense University which “has given me the ability to lead the management and comprehensive construction of the army under the conditions of modern informatization,” he remembered.
In 2010, Khyung Se became a major general of the Armed Police.
He said one of his teachers taught him to love the Party, the motherland, and the people: “In addition to this, other leaders and colleagues in the unit have also greatly helped my growth and progress, especially the main leaders of the TAR have greatly influenced me. They are both politicians and loyal fighters of the Party. For the cause of Tibet, they tried their best and bowed their hearts. When General Secretary Hu Jintao was in Tibet, as deputy director of the TAR Fire Bureau, I also had the opportunity to directly listen to the general secretary’s teachings.”
He spoke of his love for Tibet, “we should dedicate our life in Tibet. Tibet is my hometown and a beautiful place. The Tibetan people are kind and simple people. I deeply love the people here and deeply love this highland. I will dedicate my life to Tibet."
"On June 17, 1984, the Jampa (Maitraya) Buddha Hall of the Potala Palace was short-circuited due to the aging of the electrical lines and damage of the insulation lines, causing a fire and invaluable economic losses. Because the fire protection equipment was seriously lacking at that time, only the military and civilian battled against the fire, thousands of military and civilians used pots to raise water in the ‘mountains’. The rescue was quite successful, the fire was controlled in the shortest time, but the losses caused by the fire were irreversible," he recalled.
Kyung Se was directly involved in the fire fighting mission and later he did some research on fire prevention countermeasures. After the fire, the Party Committee and TAR government deployed a squadron of fire fighters to the Potala Palace; later it developed into a fire brigade. During the following 27 years, there was no more fire in the Potala Palace, said Kyung Se.
In an interview, Khyung Se explained: "Tibet is located in an ethnic area and is facing a long, complicated and difficult situation of anti-secession struggle. This requires that our officers and soldiers must have excellent political qualities and resist the penetration and subversion of hostile forces at home and abroad. It must be politically firm, disciplined, and work hard. Tibet is located in a remote area at high altitude with a cold climate, economically it is underdeveloped, it suffers from earthquakes, snow disasters, mudslides, and other natural disasters. When disasters come, it is easy to be stuck in isolated places, where rescue is difficult. Officers and soldiers must not only have excellent disaster relief skills, but also have the spirit of hardship and hard work and no fear of sacrifice. This puts strict and harsh requirements on our team politically and militarily.”
He is currently a member of the Party Committee of the TAR Public Security Department and Party Secretary and Political Committee of the Tibet Public Security Fire Brigade.
In July 2010, Khyung Se became a major general of the People’s Armed Police and Political Commissar (deputy commander level).

Major General Ngawang Dorjee
Major General Ngawang Dorjee
Ngawang Dorjee is the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Tibet Military Region. He was earlier the Leader of the TAR Recruitment Department and deputy director of the TMD’s Political Work Department (deputy PC grade).
At the age of 29, he was the youngest deputy commander of a regiment in the TMD; at the age of 33, it was the youngest regiment commander in the then Chengdu Military Region; at 39, he became the youngest deputy division commander in the TMD.
In 1990, he was transferred to the TMD. In the following years, he was in important positions such as propaganda, mass work, and national defense mobilization.
In 2004, he served on the Indian border, he once gave a speech during a Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) function with Indian officers; he said the ongoing confidence-building measures between India and China have been effective and fruitful. He later organised a cultural programme, games and a feast in honour of the Indian delegation.
In 2005, he was transferred from the post of Deputy Director of the Political Department (Political Commissar) of the Shigatse Army Division; later he was sent to the Nagchu Army Division as Director of the Political Department (PC). In 2010, he served as PC of the Linzhi (Nyingtri) Military Division of the TMD.
In July 2017, he was promoted to the rank of major general.
He is one of the rising stars among the ‘ethnic’ officers.

Senior Colonel Ngawang Yangpei
Senior Colonel Ngawang Yangpei
We do not have the bio of Ngawang Yangpei, who is deputy commander of the Ngari (Ali for the Chinese) Military Division, facing Ladakh.
Ngari sub-division is part of Southern Xinjiang Military District.
A Chinese website describes the place: “Here, it is Ngari, Tibet, with an average altitude of 4,500 meters above sea level. The oxygen content of the air is only 50% of sea level. There are continuous snowstorms throughout the year and the average temperature is below zero degrees Celsius. Hypoxia, severe cold, desolation... However, it is here that generations of iron-clad officers and soldiers used their blood and loyalty to build an unbreakable steel hero for the motherland.”
It continues thus: “Dangers is everywhere. On the roads of life and death, patrols walked where landslides, avalanches and mudslides occurred frequently; it is here that the border soldiers and soldiers walked year after year.”
Ngawang Yangpei has been serving most of his career in Ngari area; in 2008, he was the deputy chief of staff of the Ngari Army Division.
He described a tour experience as ‘nine deaths and one life’.
With his Indian counterpart
He explained why: “That day, I led the reconnaissance team into the Gora Pass (Gogra, near Hot Springs where China recently clashed with the Indian troops?); we encountered a rare snowstorm. I predicted that after heavy snowfall, there might be an avalanche. So, as soon as the reconnaissance team completed its mission, I led the team to evacuate the troops. Suddenly, a mountain shook and an avalanche came for real! Huge snow waves rolled tumbling down the big stones, instantly levelling to the ground the mountain pass behind me.”
On that day, the reconnaissance team crossed three times the death: some soldiers fell into a deep snow and nearly died of suffocation, some slipped from the peak to the bottom of the valley and were injured, and some were almost hit by the falling boulders.
Another article recounts: “Ngawang Yangpei was used to the plateau from an early age. Even so, the arduous and arduous task of defending the edges of the old plateau which collapsed three times in 15 days.”
Once, Ngawang Yangpei and a patrol including officers wore leather hats, coats, carrying water bags and dry food. In April, the mainland has already blossomed in spring, but on the Ngari Plateau, it is still icy and snowy. The border line is mostly bordered by watersheds, steep mountains, steep peaks, and ice peaks. Officers and soldiers have an average weight of more than 40 kilograms to carry and it is very difficult to walk. In the evening, the survey team encountered a snowstorm in a mountain pass.
At an altitude of 5106 meters, the storm and snow made the team members unable to open their eyes.

Captain Jampa Khedrup
Captain Jampa Khedrup
Capt Jampa is a member 13th National People’s Congress (NPC).
He is one of these ‘ceremonial’ delegates; a model ‘Tibetan’ soldier.
Jampa Khedrup is born in Aba Township, Kangding County, today's Sichuan province in February 1989. His family has three generations of loyalty towards the Party: his grandfather Norbu Tsering was the only ‘martyr’ in the township, and his father the only ‘hero’ of the township who participated in the 'War of Liberation' of the Kangding County; he was the only warrior who had two first-class merit (awards).
Norbu, his grand-father is said to have come from a ‘serf family’, oppressed by the local landlords until the liberation of Kangding in March 1950.
In 1952, Norbu “actively responded to the call of the Party Central Committee to eliminate the gangsters, defend the achievements of peace; he resolutely bid farewell to his loved ones who joined the bandit army.”
The ‘bandits’ are the Khampa freedom fighters.
In other words, Norbu betrayed his family and his race to become a good Communist.
Jampa, the grand-son, joined the PLA in December 2006.
Captain Jampa Khedrup
e has been named ‘Advanced Individual for the Whole Army to Learn and Become Talented’ by CMC's General Political Department; then, he became the ‘Army Elite Martial Arts Model’ for the entire PLA and was nominated one among the ‘A Hundred Good Military Squad Leader’ by the PLA’s mouthpiece.
He was rated as one of ‘Ten Outstanding Young Men’ by Tonghua City and ‘Learning Advanced Individual’ in Nanlin and rated as ‘Excellent Soldier’ by the Brigade for 6 consecutive years.
In other words, a ‘model’ soldier like the Communist love them.
In July 2015, Jampa graduated from the Army Officer Academy and in February 2018, he was elected to the 13th NPC.
Due to his love of the PLA, his elaborate training and personal dream merged with the deeds, said the propaganda; he was selected into the list of ‘Good People in China’.
On February 11, 2015, he met President Xi Jinping at the 2015 Chinese New Year Tea Party. He is one of the outstanding representatives of the new military generation, said a communiqué.

Sergent Yangchok Geshe with Xi Jinping
Sergent Yangchok Geshe
Yangchok is also a ‘ceremonial’ soldier and a member of the 13th NPC.
He is born in December 1977 in Gartang, Jomda County of Tibet.
Both his parents were ‘serfs’, said his CV; probably a compulsory background to make it to the NPC.
He studied till the sixth standard in Shashi, Hubei provice in a secondary school affiliated to the Kunming Army School.
In 1998, he was admitted to the PLA’s Kunming Army Academy.
After 2003, he served as a platoon commander, deputy company commander, company commander, and deputy battalion commander of a department of the TMD.
In an interview, he is thus described: “The 1.8-meter-large man in a military uniform showed the heroic spirit of the Khampa man. His bronze face was embedded with a pair of deep black eyes. Calm, majestic and fierce, like an eagle soaring over the snowy holy lake in Tibet. From the generations of serfs to representative to the National People's Congress, this young soldier born and raised during the time of the ‘reform and opening-up’ [post-1978] witnessing and experiencing the peaceful, stable and harmonious happy life of the Tibetan people during that time.”
Sergent Yangchok Geshe
After graduating, the school asked him to stay as a teacher, but he decided to come back to Tibet, “my country [China] spent so much energy to train me, I think I should work in Tibet, and show what I have learned.”
He continued to explain: “Tibet is poor and the conditions are worse than the mainland; the promotions are slower than the mainland, but this is not the most critical thing. The most important thing is that I can come back to do things.”
He was first assigned to a brigade in the Lingchi [Nyingtri] Military Army.
In early 2004, Yangchok was transferred to a PLA department in Lhasa: “In order to solve the urgent need for the lack of backbone troops, the party committee of the army asked him to organize the first ‘Snow Leopard’ backbone training class. Snow leopards live in the Himalaya in a harsh climate; they have quick responses and fast speed. In order to reach the level of a ‘Snow Leopard’ in training for the plateau scouts, everything must start from scratch with the difficulty can be imagined.”
Yangchok praises the system: “The troops used to eat and live in bungalows, but now they all have cement houses, and then they have no problem with fire and heating. They used to eat canned food, and now they can eat fresh vegetables. Supplies are far better now. The frontier defense is not like it was previously. The conditions are relatively good. All the border sites will be served by asphalt roads in a few years.”
On March 28 [year?], at the celebration of the Liberation Day of the Million Serfs in Tibet, Yangchok spoke as a representative of the Army: "It is the Party that has propped up the flying blue sky for me, and it is the Party that gave me wings for me to take off! As a new era active service soldier who grew up under the nurturing of the Party, I will always remember the Party's kindness and the people's love. …For repaying the Party and the people, be loyal to the Party, love the people, serve the country, dedicate to the mission, with loyalty and conviction, actively maintain national unity, serve the people in good faith, and practice the purposes of our army, oppose splitting, maintain social stability, defend solid borders, and build a well-off Tibet, safe Tibet, harmonious Tibet, and ecological Tibet to make its due contributions."
Like is colleagues, he knows his lesson.

Second Lieutenant Sonam Tashi
Second Lieutenant Sonam Tashi
Sonam is born in June 1990 in Lhoka (Shannan).
He is also a good member of the Communist Party of China.
In 2018, Sonam was elected as a PLA and PAP representative to attend the 13th National People's Congress.
He was apparently a marathon runner before becoming a member of the NPC.

Lieutenant Colonel Shisema
Lieutenant Colonel Shisema
Shisema is Lt Col of the People’s Armed Police; he is also a member of the 13th CPPCC National Committee.
He is born in May 1983 in Trochu in Ngaba County (today’s Sichuan).
He got a degree from the PLA Information Engineering University.
He enlisted in December 2000, he joined the PLA (at 16 years of age) without being able to read, write or speak Chinese.
In 2013 he was named a delegate to the 12th NPC and now has switched over to the CPPCC.
At first, he could not speak or write Chinese; he still became the squad leader and entered the Party (are the two related?). He was rated as an outstanding soldier for five consecutive years.
He was honored with ‘first-class’ merits once; ‘second-class’ merits once, and ‘third-class’ merits twice.
In 2008, he was rated as ‘Army Elite Martial Arts Model’, one of the “Ten Loyal Guards of the PAP’, a Communist Youth League Alternate member of the 16th Central Committee.
In 2010, he was elected as a member of the 11th China Youth Federation and won the 14th ‘China Youth May Fourth Medal’.
Shisema, while a student of the PAP’s Shenyang Command Academy talked about his own experience and often repeated this sentence: “I feel very happy because I grew up in such an era and grew up in such a military background.”
Enlisted from the rural areas of Tibetan areas, with an urgent desire to become knowledgeable; he painstakingly studied, did intensive reading of the ‘Soldier Theory Study Book’ and other books and recorded more than 200,000 words of study notes.
The ordinary warrior who knew only a few Chinese characters grew into the military officer to study and practice the Party's advanced innovation theory, and how to implement the scientific development concept in the PAP, dear to President Hu Jintao, said an article in a Chinese website.
He studied the spirit of the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and delivered a conference which was warmly received by the head of the CMC: “He is determined to be a martial adept; he is dedicated; fully trained and has suffered some 7 injuries, worn out 31 pairs of shoes, wore three pairs of sandbag vests and has never been reluctant to shed blood and sweat. Once, during a high-intensity training, he fractured his left foot anterior metacarpal, he wrapped it with bandages and continued to participate in the training.”
He once broke the 5,000 meter road record of the unit with a time of 16 minutes and 30 seconds, and achieved his best personal results: “With this kind of perseverance, he gradually became the ‘military training pacesetter’ and was designate as an ‘Advanced Individuals in the Post-training’.
He is said to have been a ‘linking bridge for national unity in the army family.
He served as a company commander of the 3rd Battalion and 8th Company of the 8672 Army.
He is the current head of the Reconnaissance Section of the 8670 Armed Police Force.
He is responsible for training in the Armed Police Department. Once, he participated in a competition with foreign military snipers; at that time, he said training concepts, methods and personnel training were not yet in place in the PLA.

Colonel Jamyang Sherab
Jamyang is born in Gyamda County (Kongpo) in December 1977.
Late 1990, Jamyang then a Tibetan teenager, had a dream; he wanted to join the PLA. In an interview, he explained that when the 'western development' scheme (dear to President Jiang Zemin) started, the Central (Beijing) government initiated a preferential education policy for young Tibetans; Jamyang who had got excellent grades in the junior high school, eventually graduated in Administration from the Tibet University and later joined Kunming Military Academy.
He enrolled in the PLA in September 1998 and joined the Party in May 2000. He has served as the platoon leader, deputy company commander, instructor, and company commander.
He is currently the deputy brigade commander of a mountain infantry brigade in the TMD; he has the rank of lieutenant colonel.
In August 2007, he attended the military model conference for the whole Army.
After 2008, he has served as a representative of the PLA in the 11th and 12th NPC. 
In January 2018, he was elected member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
A Chinese website says that the whole Army loves Jamyang’s military standard and for the entire PLA, he is an excellent commanding officer.
He has been awarded the ‘Top Ten Outstanding Youths’ of the TAR and won the second place in the international Special Forces competition. He was also awarded a honorary title by the CMC’s General Political Department.
On March 28, 2019, Jamyang Sherab told a gathering in front of the Potala, "My family witnessed the democratic reform. As a descendant of the serfs in old Tibet, I became a PLA officer and was elected as a deputy to the NPC and a member of the CPPCC’s National Committee."
Now, he serves in the Special Forces; he recalled: “when I enrolled in Special Forces selection, conditions were very tough.”
He is posted (probably as a Colonel) in the Western Theater Command.
Ethnic deputies are able to deliver 'important' speeches on Xi Jinping's 'Four Comprehensives', particularly the Rule of Law in ethnic areas, though Jamyang believes that “nothing much will be done for a larger and truer representation of the ethnic officers.”
Jamyang seemed to complain that “Year 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of the TAR”, the Central Government's policies on governing Tibet attracted attention from home and abroad, but nothing concrete was announced for the ethnic representation in the local governments (Lhasa or Urumqi) or the PLA.

Major Sonam Dolma
Major Sonam Dolma
In September 2017, Sonam Dolma was elected as a delegate to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.
We know very little of Sonam Dolma, except for an interview with a PLA News reporter Wu Yuanjin on October 27, 2017. She spoke at a function organized for the officers and soldiers to meet the 19th National Congress delegates who had just returned from Beijing.
It said that Sonam Dolma was a nurse at 22nd hospital. The reporter only focused on her studied of the report of the 19th National Congress.
Sonam was asked about her feelings, responsibilities and important mission.

Lieutenant Kalsang Lhamo
Lieutenant Kalsang Lhamo
Kalsang Lhamo, a Tibetan female soldier from Aba, Sichuan.
Her CV said that she was poor in her childhood, a prerequisite to make it in the Party in Tibet.
On May 12, 2008, a huge earthquake took place in Wenchuan, Sichuan. Kalsang Lhamo was studying in a middle school in the disaster area. Many school buildings were damaged. She and her classmates were trapped on the playground. “Dare not to sleep, dare not drink even if there is water, fear and fear,” she remembers. Then, an army of green soldiers carrying a red flag and a backpack, ran into the disaster-stricken area surrounded with muddy water. In a short time, the PLA came to rescue the population; after witnessing the PLA rescuing her relatives, she realized that the Party's graciousness was as high as the snowy mountains. Since then Kalsang was determined to wear a green military uniform.
With the heart of gratitude, Kalsang Lhamo finally joined the PLA.
She worked hard, participated in the directional off-road training team of the whole Aarmy, and won the first place in the short-distance as well as mixed relay in the national championship.
It is said that she became the ‘Lei Feng’ of the Army Engineering University; serving well the public.
Lei Feng (18 December 1940 – 15 August 1962) was a soldier in the People's Liberation Army who was the object of several major propaganda campaigns in China. The most well known of these campaigns in 1963 promoted the slogan, ‘Follow the examples of Comrade Lei Feng’.
Lei was portrayed as a model citizen, and the masses were encouraged to emulate his selflessness, modesty, and devotion to Mao. After Mao's death, state media continued to promote Lei Feng as a model of earnestness and service, and his image still appears in popular forms such as on T-shirts and other memorabilia.
Lieutenant Kalsang Lhamo
The new recruit Kalsang set herself the goal to "train as a model soldier and fight to be the first", but achieving this goal was not easy.
During the endurance training of the new camp, watching herself being overtime by her comrades, she wanted to give up, but remembered her family, she decided to live up toher origin; she clenched her teeth and kept training, and gradually caught up with her comrades, and later overtook them.
In July 2016, during the PLA off-road competition training team, all her comrades were sports students and scouts; she was the only one from communications (Signals).
She was not discouraged; as others took a rest and carried out research on maps; she summed up her experience. As a result, that year, she came first in the ‘Tenth Orientation Course of the Henan Province’.
In the cross-country championship, she won the first place in the middle distance and the first place in the ‘National Orienteering Championship’ and the short-range mixed relay race.
She explains that the School of Communication Engineering is a Red College that came out from the flames of war.
Kalsang Lhamo once became a guest of the University's ‘live library’ and spoke of her experience communicating with readers face-to-face, telling them vivid stories, giving them wonderful speeches, with unchanged original intentions, which left a deep impression on those who attended.
She is another ‘ceremonial’ soldier.

Senior Colonel Gawa Gemochi
Senior Colonel Gawa Gemochi
Col Gawa is born in May 1963 in the Tibetan-inhabited area of Qinghai; she is from the feared Golok nationality of Eastern Tibet.
She is a member of the CPPCC’s National Committee; she was earlier deputy to the 10th NPC and of course a member of the CPC.
She graduated from China Conservatory of Music.
She was nominated a ‘National First-Class Actor’ and was served as deputy head of the ‘War Banner Cultural Regiment' of the former Chengdu Military Region.
She is a well-known solo singer and actor; her famous songs include: Magic Steppe and Song of Snow Lotus.
Last year during the Two Meetings (CPPCC and NPC) which took place in Beijing, Col Gawa used strong words about the ‘prejudice against ethnic minorities’ rampant in the Middle Kingdom since the unrest in Lhasa a decade ago.
During a CPPCC session’s panel discussion, Col Gawa affirmed that the discrimination shown by the authorities against people from her ethnic group (‘Tibetans’) was ‘detrimental to national unity’.
According The South China Morning Post, the army soprano, who served the PLA for more than 20 years, “appealed to China’s central government to stop treating ethnic Tibetans as if they were separatists”.
Col Gawa explained: “I don’t think they [Beijing] should impose measures intended to deter separatists on the whole Tibetan race …It’s like there’s an order from above [for all] to follow.”
Gawa first witnessed the prejudice after the March 2008 incidents, when riots and clashes broke out in Lhasa and spread across the plateau. She clearly remembered “the prejudice she experienced in the aftermath of the unrest. …One time I led a group of performers to Beijing, everyone checked in to their hotels, but I wasn’t allowed to, because I was Tibetan.”
It is extremely rare that, what is known as Han Chauvinism, is admitted at official meetings. The fact that it is being reported, is even rarer.
Col Gawa told the panel that despite her military rank (Senior Colonel) and status as a CPPCC member, “the hotel staff simply refused to let her in. I showed them my CPPCC membership ID and my military ID but still wasn’t allowed to check in. I had to stay at a friend’s place.”
She added that the incident was not an isolated one; she had witnessed numerous examples of prejudice against Tibetan cadres, especially in Han-dominated areas.
She cited examples of discrimination: “The mainland has a 4G network already, but in many parts of Tibet and Xinjiang, the network is still only 2G,” the PLA soprano said, “of course, it might be deliberate that the networks there are not so strong.”
According to her, one solution would to increase the number of people from minority groups in positions of authority: “Native cadres will stay here forever. But cadres sent from the mainland only stay for two or three years before they are promoted to higher office.”
It is a fact that the TAR has never had a Tibetan Party Secretary.
It is interesting that Gawa was allowed to speak on this ultra-sensitive topic.
Today, technically, she does not serve any more in the PLA, as singers, actors and other artists can’t be considered as PLA officers following the 2016 reforms. She remains a CPPCC member.

Some Conclusions
One could think that it is only officers who are enrolled in the PLA, but it is not the case.
On July 8, China Tibet Online reported that 1,200 Tibetan students participated in an ‘annual soldier enrollment review’.
 It was announced by the TMD that the previous day, military colleges and universities are recruiting students to enrolled as soldiers; they conducted a 'cultural' examination in conjunction with the 2020 national university entrance examinations.  It is said that over 1,200 students from the TMD arrived at the examination site by car.
The Chinese website said that “After checking their body temperature, verifying their identity and signing, the students drew lots to determine their examination room.”
It further explained: “This year, due to the COVID-19 epidemic, student examinations for military schools could only be done at examination sites set up by the PLA. Since May, the TMD has organized examination centers for students in Lhasa for centralized preparation of examinations and unified management and guidance.”
It is obvious done on a rather large in conjunction with the militia recruitment mentioned earlier on this blog.
China Tibet Online reported: “During the preparation period, in addition to hiring famous teachers from local colleges and universities to teach these students, the TMD’s Military and Vocational Training Center have encouraged students to form support groups, in order to take advantage of their advantages and strengths and to improve the effectiveness of their learning together.”
Apparently, the head of the TMD’s Military and Vocational Training Center said that the Tibetan candidates needed to come from places located at very different altitudes: “In view of this situation, the Center decided to bring together all the candidates in Lhasa two months in advance in order to create conditions and allow the candidates to quickly adapt to the Lhasa environment.”
It is rather strange because the entire plateau is located at high altitude, places like Ngachu or Ngari prefectures being much higher than Lhasa.

The problem for Beijing, will these Tibetan recruits be loyal to the Communist Party and to its bosses in Beijing?
It is highly doubtful.
For Delhi and Dharamsala, the time has come to watch this issue more carefully.

Private 1st Class (OR-2) being tested