‘1962 war detrimental to both India and China’

Updated - October 18, 2016 02:52 pm IST

Published - December 13, 2012 02:43 pm IST - BEIJING

The 1962 war was “detrimental” not only to India but also to China, a commentary in a Chinese Communist Party-run newspaper said on Thursday in a rare article examining the legacy of the war, a much-forgotten event in China.

“Even though China did make India negotiate [through its October 20, 1962 offensive], India since then has taken China as its biggest threat and taken a militaristic stance. China not only failed to get back its lost territory but created a new rival. This was unexpected,” wrote Liu Zongyi, a scholar at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies. The commentary was published by the Communist Party-run Global Times , a widely-read tabloid known for its nationalistic views.

While the 50th anniversary of the war was an occasion for much debate and introspection in India, receiving wide coverage in the media, the event has been rarely touched upon by the media in China. The government has told newspapers here — barring one or two exceptions —

to play down the anniversary considering its “negative” impact on bilateral relations, according to Chinese journalists at several state media outlets.

Mr. Liu, in Thursday’s article, said “the leadership of China repeatedly emphasised that China and India will never be at war again. If the border problem cannot be solved, it could be temporarily put aside.”

His commentary echoed another article on the war published by the Liberation Daily — a newspaper with ties to the Communist Party in Shanghai — in late October, which said both sides should put aside the border dispute because a solution was unlikely in the near-term, with even a status quo settlement seen as unacceptable to both sides.

Mr. Liu, however, cautioned that the “border problem will never be solved” if India’s military leaders and strategists “continue deliberately ignoring the fundamental reason that caused the war”. He said “divergences on the McMahon Line between China and India were the fundamental reason for the border war.”

“Now, the U.K. Ministry of Foreign Affairs has admitted the illegality of the McMahon Line, but India remains determined to uphold the views of British colonists,” he claimed. According to him, the uprising in Tibet in 1959 and the Dalai Lama moving to India in exile were other factors. Following the events, China “had to handle the boundary issue with India from a strategic perspective,” he said.

Mr. Liu argued that former Premier Zhou Enlai was in favour of solving the issue through negotiations when he travelled to New Delhi in 1960.

“But [Nehru refused negotiations. The attitude of Nehru was surely influenced by India's domestic politics: Nehru and his ruling party were attacked on the border issue by opposition parties.” “Since China's policy to stop India’s further encroachment failed,” he added, “a lightning strike to force India to the negotiating table was the last resort.”

He said both countries needed to “view the issue objectively” even if “one side does bear the main responsibility". “However, from India’s high-profile memorial for the 50th anniversary of the border war, it seems its military leaders and strategists are not doing so,” he concluded. “Their reflection is allegedly confined to their country’s military weaknesses, such as outdated equipment, misconduct, and poor logistics.”

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