With the world's gaze fixed on the Cuban crisis, India and China went to war in 1962. While the conflict is long since over, their relations are still a mess as it continues to influence the bilateral relationship between India and China in three ways.
- The war of 1962 made the Tibet issue, a permanent source of friction in Sino-Indian relations. As the Dalai Lama's government in exile in Dharamsala is viewed as a source of undermining Chinese authority in Tibet by India government.
- The war also changed the dynamics of border dispute resolution. As neither India nor china wants to look like a loser as the resolution may involve both countries relinquishing a significant portion of the claimed territory. e.g china need to give up claim over Arunachal Pradesh and India needs to give up claim over Aksai chin.
- The war also created a deep sense of rivalry and mistrust between two nuclear powers.
This mutual mistrust and sense of rivalry also shaped the foreign policies of both countries. Therefore each country has forged relationships that act as a counterweight to the other.
For example, Beijing's all-weather friendship with Pakistan and Indian partnership with Russian and strategic alliance with quad ( US, Australia, Japan and India) are one such example. This rivalry has also spilt into India neighbourhood with china increasing its influence through its high-cost credit to Bangladesh, Srilanka, Nepal, Maldives and Myanmar. Chinese penetration in India's maritime borders and its purported " string of pearls " also pushed India to closer to the US and its allies. Because every other non-aligned Independent policies were limited by India's capacity to spend.
Events that led to 1962 war
- India recognized Chinese influence over Autonomous Tibet
- China failed to respect the autonomy of Tibet
- Tibetan Rebellion in 1959
- Dalai Lama took refuge in India in 1959 and set up the Tibetan government in exile in India
- This angered China so took up the policy of " Strategic Dominance "
- It does not want to recognize the McMohan line as the border between India and China
- India also doesn't recognize Chinese occupation of Aksai Chin
- Nehru - Mao Zedong meet to discuss border dispute
- China offered to recognise McMohan line in return for Indian recognition of Aksai Chin - Which India refused
- 1961 - Forward Policy by Nehru - i.e Built forward post to secure the border and prevent Chinese incursion
- 1962 - China Invaded India on Mao Zedong's Order because for him power flows through the barrel of the gun.
Chinese Master Plan
The War of 1962 and subsequent periodic incursion by PLA into disputed India-China border teaches certain lessons and exposes Chinese Master Plan
- China always likes to " stab in the back " - they never stuck to any past agreement
- They use " Salami Slicing " strategy to nibble away disputed territories slowly and steadily and in small quantities.
- In this process, they use negotiations to buy time to consolidate its territorial gains
- For them, any agreement signed during negotiation is designed to bind India not china
- They follow " 10 miles forward and 5 miles backward strategy " which validates their definition of " give and take ". India gives and china takes
- India keeps more faith in diplomacy and as the cost of escalation affects India more than it affects China. This forced India to downplay any Chinese incursion thus giving China a free hand.
- China also wants to replace "LAC" with a looser term "border areas" as LAC does not suit their diplomacy of obscurity.
- While achieving all these China also consciously keeps the incursion below the threshold of armed conflict, staying true to Sun Tzu's winning-without-fighting warfare.